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US agency approves new drug for hospital infection

Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s Dificid tablets were approved Friday to treat Clostridium difficile, an infection that usually affects older patients and can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to potentially life-threatening inflammation of the colon. It is most common in hospitals and nursing homes where the bacteria spores can be found in bed linens, bathrooms and medical equipment.

Clostridium difficile recently surpassed a type of staphylococcus bug as the most common hospital-acquired infection, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

Optimer’s twice-a-day tablet is the first new drug approved for the infection in nearly 25 years, according to the company.

In recent decades, some varieties of germs have grown immune to popular antibiotics like penicillin, creating anxiety about the dwindling number of new antibiotics available. The new drug, known generically as fidaxomicin, is only the third antibiotic cleared by the FDA since 2006, according to Optimer.
 
 

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