Rifaximin has the potential to prevent complications of cirrhosis

Steven L. Flamm*, Kevin D. Mullen, Zeev Heimanson, Arun J. Sanyal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Background: Cirrhosis-related complications are associated with poor prognosis. With our analyses, we examined the potential benefit of rifaximin in reducing the risk of developing cirrhosis-related complications. Methods: Adults with cirrhosis and hepatic encephalopathy (HE) in remission were randomly assigned to receive rifaximin 550 mg twice daily or placebo for 6 months with concomitant lactulose permitted. Post hoc analyses examined time to cirrhosis-related complications (HE, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), variceal bleeding, acute kidney injury/hepatorenal syndrome). Subgroup analyses evaluated efficacy for select baseline disease characteristics. Results: Of patients receiving rifaximin (n = 140) and placebo (n = 159), 53.6% and 49.1%, respectively, had baseline Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score ⩾ 12 and international normalized ratio (INR) ⩾ 1.2. Baseline ascites was observed in 36.4% (rifaximin) and 34.6% (placebo) of patients. In patients with MELD score ⩾ 12 and INR ⩾ 1.2, rifaximin reduced the relative risk (RR) of any first complication experienced during trial by 59% [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.41, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.25–0.67; p < 0.001] versus placebo. For patients with baseline ascites, rifaximin reduced the RR of any first complication experienced during trial by 42% versus placebo (HR = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.34–1.0; p = 0.045). For some subgroups, there was a decrease in RR of complications of SBP, variceal bleeding, and acute kidney injury/hepatorenal syndrome with rifaximin versus placebo, although there were few events reported in the study. Conclusion: Rifaximin may reduce the incidence of cirrhosis-related complications and the recurrence of overt HE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • antibiotic
  • cirrhosis
  • decompensation
  • hepatic encephalopathy
  • rifaximin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

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