THE first drug proven to cure the deadly C.diff infection has been accepted for use on the NHS.
Difficlir, an antibiotic, has been shown to reduce the risk of the bug recurring by more than half.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium, which advises NHS Scotland on new treatments, has announced it has been accepted for restricted use. Individual boards can decide whether to prescribe the treatment.
C.diff affects about 2000 patients each year in Scotland – mainly elderly – and kills about 200 of those.
Statistics show up to a quarter of patients affected by the bug usually have a recurrence within 30 days and the chances of another is over 50%.
Doctors say despite a dramatic reduction in the number of cases, they have not been able to halt the mortality rate of the infection.
Clinical trials showed 12.7% of patients suffered a recurrence with Difficlir, the first new drug in 25 years, against 26.9% on the current treatment.
The drug costs about £1300 for a course, about 10 times more than current antibiotic treatment.
It costs £270m a year to treat the infection.
The number of cases of C.diff in hospitals has decreased by about 75% in the past few years. However, community cases are now increasing.
An inquiry into the deaths of 18 people from the superbug at the Vale Of Leven Hospital, Dunbartonshire, will conclude in September.
Professor Robert Masterton, director of Healthcare Associated Infection at West Of Scotland University, said: "This is the first drug treatment offering the chance to reduce the mortality rate.
"There is the potential for resource saving. The estimated cost of treating C.diff is £4000-£10,000. It is very expensive. Each relapse costs about £4000.
"However, the company did not provide hard data about the health savings and there is a need to demonstrate this."