Xifaxan Approved for People With Liver Disease

To treat disorder that affects brain function

THURSDAY, March 25, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Xifaxan (rifaximin) has been approved for people with advanced liver disease to reduce the risk of overt hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a reduction in brain function that occurs among people whose livers can't remove poisons from the blood, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a news release.

HE is thought to occur from a buildup of ammonia, which Xifaxan works to reduce, the agency said. The drug is already FDA-approved to treat traveler's diarrhea.

Xifaxan's effectiveness in preventing HE was evaluated in clinical trials in the United States, Canada and Russia. People who took the drug were less likely to develop the disorder, compared to those who took an inactive placebo.

Common reported side effects of the drug included swelling of the arms and legs, nausea, gas and headache.

Xifaxan is produced by North Carolina-based Salix Pharmaceuticals.

More information

The FDA has more about this drug's approval history.

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