Probiotics May Curb Adverse Antibiotic Effects

Adverse AntibioticA probiotic drink twice a day can help reduce antibiotic-related diarrhea, and it may even keep health care costs down, say researchers from the United Kingdom.

One hundred thirty-five hospitalized patients (mean age, 74 years) drank Actimel (Dannon), a probiotic yogurt drink containing Lactobacillus casei, L. bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus during their course of antibiotics and for one week afterward. Control patients were given a sterile milk shake.

Diarrhea developed in only seven of 57 patients (12%) given the probiotic drink, but it affected 19 of 56 patients (34%) who were given the placebo drink (Yazoo).

The cost needed to prevent one case of antibiotic-associated diarrhea was $100, and the cost of preventing one case of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) was $120. In the U.S., it can cost an average of more than $3,600 per patient to treat CDAD, mainly because of an increased length of stay in the hospital and because vancomycin is widely used.

(Source: BMJ 2007;335:80 online version, June 29, 2007.)