A clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) health division has demonstrated the use of common and inexpensive antimicrobials to heal skin abscesses caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).  

The trial included the administration of clindamycin or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) in 796 children and adults with small, uncomplicated skin abscesses over ten days at multiple hospitals in the US.

Available as an oral, intravenous (IV) and topical formulation, clindamycin is an antibiotic developed to treat various bacterial infections of the middle ear, joints, pelvic inflammatory disease, pneumonia and certain MRSA cases.

Known as co-trimoxazole, TMP-SMX comprises one part trimethoprim to five of sulfamethoxazole, and is an oral or IV antibiotic formulated to address infections of urinary tract, MRSA, travellers' diarrhoea, respiratory tract and cholera.

"Results from the clinical trial showed a 62.9% cure rate with placebo, while it was observed to be 84.6% in case of TMP-SMX and 81.7% with clindamycin."

Results from the clinical trial showed a 62.9% cure rate with placebo, while it was observed to be 84.6% in case of TMP-SMX and 81.7% with clindamycin. 

Data from the trial was found to be consistent with previous studies, which showed better clinical outcomes for both antimicrobials when compared with placebo to treat MRSA skin infections. 

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According to researchers, the results indicate that existing treatment options for MRSA are useful, even as the search continues for new antimicrobial products.

Researchers urged healthcare providers to consider clindamycin and TMP-SMX as possible treatment options for MRSA skin abscesses and also recommended to consider the associated risks as the antimicrobials demonstrated severe side effects during the trial.

Image: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Photo: courtesy of NIAID.