UK patients with serious skin infections could get access to a new treatment option following today’s nationwide rollout of MSD’s new antibiotic Sivextro.

Sivextro (tedizolid phosphate) is a once-daily oxazolidinone antibiotic developed for both intravenous and oral administration, designed to treat acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI) caused by certain Gram-positive bacteria.

The once-daily drug represents the first new oral option in this class for 15 years, the firm has noted, offering the opportunity for out-patient care and thus potentially avoiding expensive hospitalisation.

Cases of skin infections caused by the superbug MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) in the community and MSSA (methicillin-sensitive staphylococcus aureus) are rising in the UK, and up to 25% of MRSA infections are now resistant to treatment, posing a huge treatment challenge and highlighting the urgent need for new antibiotic products on the market. 

In general, antimicrobial resistance is thought to cost the European Union at least 1.5 billion euros a year, with an estimated death toll of 25,000 annually (including around 3,000 in the UK), but some experts fear it could cause 10 million deaths globally by 2050. World leaders are to discuss the issue again at a G7 summit meeting in Germany next week. 

Sivextro, which MSD took under its wing following Merck & Co’s purchase of Cubist, was approved for ABSSSI in the US in June last year.