High-dose rifaximin treatment alleviates global symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Clin Exp Gastroenterol. 2011;4:43-8. doi: 10.2147/CEG.S18051. Epub 2011 Apr 18.


Background: To evaluate the efficacy of rifaximin for reduction of gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Methods: Medical records were identified for consecutive patients diagnosed with IBS according to Rome III criteria, who had abnormal lactulose breath test results and had received rifaximin 1200 mg/day for 10 days. The efficacy of rifaximin for reducing gastrointestinal symptoms and for eradicating small intestinal bacterial overgrowth was ascertained in these patients. In addition, these endpoints were examined in patients who were initially unresponsive to rifaximin 1200 mg/day and received subsequent rifaximin 2400 mg/day.

Results: Patients who received rifaximin 1200 mg/day (n = 162) experienced a mean improvement of 52% in global IBS symptoms at the end of rifaximin treatment. Similarly, initially unresponsive patients who received additional rifaximin 2400 mg/day (n = 81) experienced a 53% mean improvement in global IBS symptoms. Forty-nine percent of patients who received initial rifaximin and 47% of patients who received high-dose rifaximin achieved ≥50% global symptom improvement during at least one follow-up visit. Normalization of lactulose breath test results was only apparent in some patients who received high-dose rifaximin. Rifaximin was well tolerated.

Conclusion: Rifaximin 1200 mg/day for 10 days reduced gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with IBS. Patients with incomplete symptom resolution may respond to increased doses of rifaximin.

Keywords: irritable bowel syndrome; lactulose breath test; rifaximin; small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.