Using Astellas' Dificlir (fidaxomicin) as a first-line treatment for clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is not only clinically effective but could also save the National Health Service thousands of pounds compared to the standard of care, according to data from a late-stage study.

The 'real world' trial, carried out at St George's Hospital in London, England, found that the drug led to a reduction in recurrence of the illness and a saving of more than £48,000 versus treatment with vancomycin or metronidazole.

Just 6% of patients treated with Dificlir had a recurrence of CDI - a major treatment challenge - within 28 days of end of therapy, compared with 20% of those taking vancomycin/metronidazole in the preceding year.

Furthermore, previous studies indicate that patients who have already had one recurrence have a 40% risk of a further episode, but there were no second recurrences reported in the Dificlir-treated group, researchers said.

Tim Planche, lead investigator and Consultant Microbiologist, St George’s Hospital, said he is pleased the real world results echo those seen in previous trials, and that his team is "assured of the cost benefit" of continuing to use this drug.

"This real life data demonstrates a treatment advance that can improve patient outcomes and reduce the significant burden of this disease, which will hopefully lead to improved management of CDI in clinical practice," noted Professor Oliver Cornely, University Hospital Cologne, Germany.

Missing cases

Meanwhile, fresh data garnered from nearly 500 European hospitals has revealed that in just a single day an average of 109 cases of CDI are missed, because of a lack of clinical suspicion or inadequate laboratory testing.

This, say researchers, means that 39,000 cases could be going under the radar in Europe every year.  

The EUCLID study, also sponsored by Astellas, shows that the incidence of the infection in Europe has increased (compared with previous studies) from 4.123 to 7.92 cases per 10,000 patient bed days between 2008 and 2012-13, respectively.