A clinical trial has found two treatment options to cure increasingly drug-resistant modern strains of gonorrhea, but they often have side effects, and federal officials called for more research Monday.
Gonorrhea patients now must get a shot and round of oral antibiotics to kill the sexually transmitted disease, which has developed new defenses against modern drugs.
A clinical trial with 401 gonorrhea patients now has shown that two more anti-gonorrhea regimens — one with a shot and oral antibiotics, and the other with two oral antibiotics — were 100 percent or 99.5 percent effective.
Unfortunately, both regimens had adverse side effects. Roughly a third of the patients experienced nausea, and about a fifth experienced diarrhea.
“Patients need more oral options with fewer side effects,” said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the Division of STD Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gonorrhea is a common disease, with an estimated 800,000 new infections every year in the United States. The sexually transmitted disease has been curable since the 1930s, but it persistently has become drug-resistant and is curable today with an injection of ceftriaxone combined with oral azithromycin or oral doxycycline.
The clinical trial treatments — which will be reported this week at an international STD conference in Austria — studied oral azithromycin combined with either a shot of gentamicin or a round of oral gemifloxicin.
Untreated gonorrhea is associated with painful urination, pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.