Non-antibiotic drugs already on the market, study finds

Antibiotic resistance is a hot topic in long-term care, and a new study indicates non-antibiotic therapeutic drugs are already available. Most provocatively, an antipsychotic may be used to treat Clostridium difficile.

These drugs, often meant for other purposes, could fight bacterial infections, according to researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. They screened 780 Food and Drug Administration-approved therapeutics and found almost 100 that were effective against Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the plague.

"There are no new antibiotics which are being developed and nobody really has given much emphasis to this because everyone feels we have enough antibiotics in the market," said Ashok Chopra, a professor at UTMB. "But now the problem is that bugs are becoming resistant to multiple antibiotics. That's why we started thinking about looking at other molecules that could have some effect in killing such antibiotic resistant bacteria."

Researchers found trifluoperazine, an antipsychotic; doxapram, a breathing stimulant; and amoxapine, an antidepressant, also were effective. Trifluoperazine also could be used to treat Salmonella enterica and Clostridium difficile infections.

"It is quite possible these drugs are already, unknowingly, treating infections when prescribed for other reasons," Chopra said.

Results appeared in the Journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

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