Antibiotic tablet in a man's hand

Effectiveness of oral antibiotics for cystic fibrosis demonstrated

A landmark national study, funded by NIHR, has found oral antibiotics are just as effective as intravenous antibiotics in killing a common germ which causes dangerous complications in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients.

The study investigated the effectiveness of two types of treatment in tackling pseudomonas aeruginosa, which causes a chronic destructive lung infection in CF patients and which cannot be eradicated unless caught in the early stages.

Dr Simon Langton Hewer, a Consultant Respiratory Paediatrician at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) and Chief Investigator of the study with colleagues at the University of Nottingham, said: “I’m very excited to be able to share the results of this very important study which has implications for adults and children with CF who have a new infection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

“Our study found that traditional oral antibiotics are just as effective as intravenous antibiotics, which means that CF patients who have a new Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be treated at home and saved the inconvenience of having to be admitted to hospital for treatment.

“The results of the study provide evidence to guide practice in CF centres and will help to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions.”

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacterium which is present in the environment, lurking in places such as sink drains. Most CF patients have chronic lung infections with the germ by their late teens. Oral and nebulised (inhaled) antibiotics have mainly been used to eradicate pseudomonas, but are only effective if the infection is caught in time.

Intravenous antibiotics are used commonly to eradicate the infection, however until now there was no clear scientific evidence that intravenous treatment is any better than oral.

The 10-year trial was sponsored by UHBW and funded with £1.5m from NIHR. In total, 286 patients took part in the study at 70 CF centres and clinics around the UK and two in Italy.

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