March 25th, 2011
H. pylori: Is it time to change our first-line treatment?
H. pylori dominated the GI news in the 1990s, and despite it disappearing from the front pages, it remains a common and important clinical problem. The dominant recommended initial treatment strategy has been a clarithromycin-based PPI triple therapy, with either amoxicillin or metronidazole as the third drug. This approach was based on clinical studies, ease of use, and tolerability factors. Bismuth-based quadruple therapy (a bismuth agent, metronidazole, tetracycline, and a PPI), despite demonstrating excellent activity, was usually relegated to second-line therapy because of the complexity of the dosing as well as compliance and tolerability issues.
However, duringthe last decade, the widespread use of macrolides in the general population has led to rising resistance to clarithromycin (by 30% or more of H. pylori strains in some areas), and when clarithromycin resistance is present, the efficacy of clarithromycin-containing triple therapy falls from about 80% to 50% or even lower. However, clarithromycin resistance does not affect the efficacy of bismuth-based quadruple therapy, and that efficacy of those regimens remains at about 90% when patients are compliant with the treatment.
So the questions for you to consider are:
1) Do you know what the clarithromycin resistance rate in H. pylori is in your community?
2) What first-line H. pylori treatment regimen do you use?
3) Are you planning to change your H. pylori treatment strategy now that clarithromycin resistance rates are rising?
Let us know what you think.