Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) patients treated with bezlotoxumab were less likely to be readmitted for recurring symptoms within 30 days of discharge, according to a phase 3 trial funded by Merck.

Recurrent CDI is a burden on both patients and providers, increasing health risks with each recurrence and eating through hospital resources, according to Vimalanand S. Prabhu, PhD , associate principal scientist for Merck.

“Approximately 25% of patients experience recurrent CDI. … After a first recurrence of CDI, the probability of a second recurrence is approximately 38%,” according to a study cited by Dr. Prabhu and colleagues ( Clin Infect Dis. 2014 Aug 1;59[3]:345-54 ). “Recent model-based estimates place the 2014 economic cost of CDI at $5.4 billion in the United States, mostly attributable to hospitalization.”

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, study of 1,050 CDI patients, a total of 27 (5%) of 530 of those given bezlotoxumab were re-hospitalized 30 days after discharge, compared with 58 (11%) of 520 patients in the placebo group (Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Aug 11. doi. 10.1093/cid/cix523 ).

Patients were gathered from 322 sites across 30 countries between November 2011 and May 2015.

When measuring CDI-related readmissions, the investigators found use of bezlotoxumab reduced rCDI hospitalizations by 6%, and by approximately 8% in high-risk patients, such as those over 65 years old or with severe CDI.

Bezlotoxumab works by binding to CDI toxin B, a primary cause of CDI symptoms, according to Dr. Prabhu and fellow investigators. The researchers suggested that bezlotoxumab could be a prevailing factor in fighting the rate of CDI infections, which accounted for 29,000 deaths in 2011 ( N Engl J Med. 2015 Jun 11;372[24]:2368-9 ).

Investigators acknowledged that patients admitted for the study may be healthier than the real-world CDI population.

All investigators reported some financial involvement, whether being a full-time employee or acting as a consultant, for Merck, which funded the study. Individually, investigators reported financial ties to similar medical companies, such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

On Twitter @eaztweets