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Are Narrow-Spectrum Antibiotics More Effective Against C. difficile?


Kirk Hevener, PharmD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, explains why narrow-spectrum antibiotics are more beneficial for treating Clostridium difficile.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

An ideal situation would be to use a narrow-spectrum antibacterial that specifically targets the C. difficile bacteria, and is able to essentially leave alone the other bacteria in the gut, where C. difficile infection occurs. There’s quite a large number of bacteria in the lower bowel and many of these aren’t pathogenic. In fact, what they actually do is they’re able to keep C. difficile growth in check.

The reason that broad-spectrum antibacterials are associated with C. difficile infection, is because when you use these broad-spectrum antibacterials, they affect these, for lack of a better word, ‘good’ bacteria, as well as the bad bacteria. When you wipe out, or decrease, the growth of the good bacteria, some of these bad bacteria, such as C. difficile, can overgrow and cause infection. So, like I said, a narrow-spectrum agent that could only be used for C. diff, would allow the good bacteria to come back and then you’d have a therapeutic ‘double-hit’ so to speak.”
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