Xifaxan Relives Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Our previous article reported the beneficial effects of exercise to relieve symptoms of irritable disease.  Now, two studies indicated that treatment with antibiotic, rifaximin (Xifaxan), for 2 weeks provides long-lasting, significant symptom relief in patients who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) without constipation. 

Rifaximin is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat travelers’ diarrhea and hepatic encephalopathy. 

The 2 studies, TARGET 1 and TARGET 2, were placebo-controlled trials to study the effect of rifaximin in patients who had IBS without constipation. Participants were randomly assigned to receive 550 mg of rifaximin or placebo for 2 weeks, with follow-up for 10 additional weeks. 

During the first 4 weeks after treatment, greater proportion of patients assigned to the rifaximin group than the placebo group experienced a relief of IBS symptoms (40.7% vs 31.7%; P < .001). 

The rifaximin group also fared better in the proportion of patients with adequate relief of bloating (40.2% vs 30.3%; P < .001). 

Treatment response, based on daily ratings of IBS symptoms, bloating, abdominal pain, and stool consistency, was also significantly better in the rifaximin group. Incidence of adverse events, however, did not differ between the rifaximin group and the placebo group. 

The 2 studies suggested that rifaxmin might be considered as another option to treat and prevent symptoms (bloating, abdominal pain and loose or watery stools) in IBS patients without constipation. 

Source: N Engl J Med. 2011;364:22-32, 81-82. Abstract 

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