Which Drug Battles Pneumonia Best

Study says linezolid better than vancomycin with deadly drug-resistant strain

TUESDAY, March 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The drug linezolid (brand name Zyvox) seems about 40 percent more effective in combating a deadly and increasingly common form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria than the drug vancomycin.

That's according to research published online in the March issue of Intensive Care Medicine.

This form of pneumonia -- ventilator-associated pneumonia caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) -- was once primarily found in intensive care unit patients. But it is now increasingly common in the general population, particularly among children.

Linezolid is a relatively new drug. Vancomycin has been used to treat pneumonia for about a decade.

In this current paper, a team led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis combined and analyzed data of about 544 patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia who were part of two previous studies.

They found linezolid was about 15 percent more effective in curing infection than vancomycin (49 percent vs. 34 percent). Overall survival rates were marginally better for patients taking linezolid compared with those taking vancomycin.

When they analyzed a subset of patients with MRSA, the researchers found a 60 percent cure rate for patients taking linezolid, compared to a cure rate of 22 percent for those taking vancomycin. Survival rates were 84 percent for patients taking linezolid compared to 62 percent for those taking vancomycin.

The research was funded by Pharmacia Corp., now part of Pfizer Inc.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about pneumonia.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine, news release, March 2, 2004
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