GENERIC NAME: rifaximin
BRAND NAME: Xifaxan
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Rifaximin is a semi-synthetic antibiotic used for treating traveler's diarrhea and hepatic encephalopathy. It is derived from rifamycin, a naturally occurring chemical produced by a bacterium called Streptomyces mediterranei. Rifaximin is active against Escherichia coli bacterial strains that cause traveler's diarrhea, preventing growth of the bacteria by preventing them from manufacturing proteins needed for their replication and survival. By suppressing growth of the bacteria, rifaximin reduces symptoms of traveler's diarrhea. Hepatic encephalopathy is a serious neurologic complication of advanced liver disease that affects the brain. It is believed to be caused by the absorption of ammonia and other chemicals produced by bacteria in the intestine. It is believed that rifaximin prevents and treats hepatic encephalopathy by reducing the intestinal bacteria that produce ammonia. The FDA approved rifaximin in May 2004.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Rifaximin is approved for treating patients 12 years or older with traveler's diarrhea caused by Escherichia coli. It also is effective at preventing traveler's diarrhea. It is approved for preventing the recurrence of hepatic encephalopathy in individuals 18 years of age or older. Rifaximin also has been shown to effectively treat non-constipating irritable bowel syndrome.
SIDE EFFECTS: Common side effects associated with rifaximin include:
- urge to defecate,
- abdominal pain,
- flatulence, and
- fluid retention (edema).
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