A Review of the Economics of Treating Clostridium difficile Infection
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Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is a costly result of antibiotic use, responsible for an estimated 14,000 deaths annually in the USA according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Annual costs attributable to CDI are in excess of $US1 billion. This review summarizes appropriate utilization of prevention and treatment methods for CDI that have the potential to reduce the economic and humanistic costs of the disease. Some cost-effective strategies to prevent CDI include screening and isolation of hospital admissions based on C. difficile carriage to reduce transmission in the inpatient setting, and probiotics, which are potentially efficacious in preventing CDI in the appropriate patient population. The most extensively studied agents for treatment of CDI are metronidazole, vancomycin, and fidaxomicin. Most economic comparisons between metronidazole and vancomycin favor vancomycin, especially with the emergence of metronidazole-resistant C. difficile strains. Metronidazole can only be recommended for mild disease. Moderate to severe CDI should be treated with vancomycin, preferably the compounded oral solution, which provides the most cost-effective therapeutic option. Fidaxomicin offers a clinically effective and potentially cost-effective alternative for treating moderate CDI in patients who do not have the NAP1/BI/027 strain of C. difficile. Probiotics and fecal microbiota transplant have variable efficacy and the US FDA does not currently regulate the content; the potential economic advantages of these treatment modalities are currently unknown.