The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) have announced that two new antibiotic therapies are highly effective at treating gonorrhea. The sexually transmitted infection (STI) has developed resistance to nearly all the current arsenal of treatments, increasing the need for new lines of attack. However, participants in the clinical trials of the new antibiotics reported significant side effects, most notably gastrointestinal problems, so the CDC is not currently changing its treatment guidelines for the STI.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the NIH, sponsored a Phase IV clinical trial of two therapies; the first included injectable gentamicin in combination with oral azithromycin, and the second was oral gemifloxacin in combination with oral azithromycin. The trial began in 2010, enrolling 401 participants who were between the ages of 15 and 60 and who had an untreated gonorrhea infection.

The injectable gentamicin/oral azithormycin combination was 100 percent effective at curing gonorrhea, while the oral gemifloxacin/oral azithromycin therapy was 99.5 percent effective. Out of the 202 participants who took gentamicin/azithormycin, 28 percent experienced nausea, 19 percent diarrhea and 7 percent either abdominal discomfort or pain or vomiting. Out of the 199 participants in the gemifloxacin/azithromycin arm of the study, 27 percent experienced nausea, 23 percent diarrhea and 11 percent abdominal pain or discomfort.

“These trial results are an exciting step in the right direction in the fight against drug-resistant gonorrhea,” Gail Bolan, MD, director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention, said in a release. “But patients need more oral options with fewer side effects. It is imperative that researchers and pharmaceutical companies prioritize research to continue to identify new, effective, better-tolerated drugs and drug combinations.”

To read the CDC press release, click here.