Linezolid is a Better Treatment for Resistant Pneumonia

ST. LOUIS -- A drug called linezolid is more successful at treating a deadly form of pneumonia than the standard treatment, vancomycin, according to data presented Jan. 30, 2003 at the 32nd Critical Care Congress of the Society of Critical Care Medicine in San Antonio. These results are based on data from two identical phase III clinical trials comparing linezolid to vancomycin in the treatment of pneumonia cases that develop in the hospital.

"Doctors need to recognize that the antibiotics they select can impact whether a patient lives or dies," says Marin H. Kollef, MD, associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "These data demonstrate that critically-ill patients taking linezolid were more likely to live than those taking vancomycin." Kollef is one of the national principal investigators who will present the findings.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a virulent bacterium that is becoming increasingly resistant to standard therapies used to treat infections in intensive care units. Mechanical ventilation is one of the most common therapies for patients in intensive care units. However, about 8 to 28 percent of patients on a ventilator develop ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), with mortality rates as high as 50 percent when MRSA is involved.

Kollef and his colleagues analyzed data from 91 patients with VAP caused by MRSA who took part in one of two international phase III, randomized, double-blind trials to identify significant predictors of survival. Patients received intravenous linezolid or vancomycin twice daily for seven to 21 days. The team found that the patients were significantly more likely to survive when treated with linezolid compared with those treated with vancomycin.

Linezolid is marketed by Pharmacia Corporation under the trade name Zyvox. It is indicated for the treatment of pneumonia infections caused by S. aureus (both methicillin-susceptible and resistant strains) and S. pneumoniae (penicillin-susceptible strains only).

(Kollef M, et al. Linezolid vs vancomycin: Predictors of survival in patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia. 32nd Critical Care Congress of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, Jan. 30, 2003.)

Funding from Pharmacia Corporation supported this research.