Basis for the Management of Drug-Resistant Helicobacter pylori Infection
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- Mégraud, F. Drugs (2004) 64: 1893. doi:10.2165/00003495-200464170-00003
The discovery that most stomach diseases are a consequence of an Helicobacter pylori infection has completely changed the management of stomach diseases. Antibacterials are the treatment of choice in addition to proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or ranitidine bismuth. We are now faced with the problem of antimicrobial resistance, which is the main cause of treatment failure.
H. pylori acquires resistance essentially via point mutations, and today this phenomenon is found with most antibacterials. The most important resistance to consider is that to clarithromycin, since it is the first-choice antibacterial and clarithromycin resistance is highly clinically significant. Quadruple therapy or triple therapies with amoxicillin-metronidazole or tetracycline-metronidazole and a PPI or ranitidine bismuth can then be used despite a possible resistance to metronidazole if the strain is resistant to clarithromycin. Resistance to both clarithromycin and metronidazole may lead to the use of other combinations, i.e. amoxicillin-rifabutin, amoxicillin-levofloxacin or amoxicillin-furazolidone. Resistance to any of these drugs means their use must be avoided. In some instances, it may also be advisable to prescribe amoxicillin as the sole antibacterial, or to use a quadruple therapy with furazolidone instead of metronidazole.
Although it is theoretically possible to cure a drug-resistant H. pylori infection, a practical limitation is the availability of the drugs in certain countries. Furthermore, the progressive increase in drug resistance warrants the need for new antibacterials in the near future.