Use of Probiotics in Hospitals

A Canadian company named Bio-K+ makes lactobacilli-based probiotics — mainly a fermented milk drink, like Yakult but with different bacteria — that hospitals can use to reduce antibiotic-related diarrhea (a common side effect of antibiotics) and C. difficile infection, a less common but far more serious side effect. In this 2007 study, the probiotics reduced the rate of diarrhea by half and reduced the rate of C. difficile infection by a factor of 7 (from 7 cases to 1 case).

How the company started. Thanks to Anne Weiss.

6 Replies to “Use of Probiotics in Hospitals”

  1. That marketing article was interesting but it’s missing some important research from my perspective as a person making his own milk Kefir daily. I would certainly liked to have seen a comparison of 44 patients who were given freshly made Kefir, perhaps one, two, four and eight cups per day and compare those results with the very expensive Bio-K product. If it works better, more power to it. But it’s hard for me to be convinced a packaged product is of superior value until I see the research backing it up.

    Also interesting to me is this. That scientist from Paris, the one that “discovered” this great new probiotic with so-called healing powers. This person didn’t follow up with the new found knowledge or spread the word so all of mankind could benefit because he couldn’t “market it” ?
    Yeah, that’s my kind of guy.

  2. Yes, who would pay for a study comparing an expensive probiotic with cheap kefir? No one. I agree that’s a big problem.
    We are now stuck with a weird kind of public-health science where the most important study — does cheap stuff like kefir and yogurt help? — can’t possibly be done and all we have instead are studies of expensive imitations. It’s like a taxi system where the shortest route from A to B is prohibited; you must take a much longer route.

  3. @seth: “We are now stuck with a weird kind of public-health science where the most important study — does cheap stuff like kefir and yogurt help? — can’t possibly be done and all we have instead are studies of expensive imitations. It’s like a taxi system where the shortest route from A to B is prohibited; you must take a much longer route. ”

    Even worse, the failure to fund trials is combined with a suffocating dominance of the perspective of self-styled ‘evidence-based medicine’ (EBM) – including the groundless notion that only mega-trails should be taken seriously.

    http://trialsjournal.com/content/2/1/2

    The combination of misunderstanding and consequently overvaluing the function of large trials, with the ignorant denigration of other sources of medical knowledge, means: 1. that progress is only recognized when it is via mega-trails, and therefore 2. he who controls megatrial funding controls ‘authoritative’ medical knowledge.

    Since the vast majority of randomized trials are industry funded, EBM has meant that industry has a de facto monopoly on ‘reputable’ therapeutic knowledge.

    Delivering us into the hands of Big Pharma was not – of course – intended by the socialistic founders of EBM, but it has happened nonetheless. However, so long as they get their paychecks and power, the EBM leadership aren’t protesting about the fact.

    http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2009/08/zombie-science-of-evidence-based.html

  4. Lately there’s been a lot of talk about newspapers looking into going non profit and/or finding a large foundation or single rich guy to support them, just to stay alive, (of course they brought this on themselves but I digress). The idea is that the republic “needs” big newspapers. This is hogwash but a discussion for another day. It’s the same thing as lobbyists in Washington trying to hold on to their own self interests for the corporations they represent.

    The same initiative however, could be directed to a more noble and moral cause, toward finding a foundation to support research into alternative health cures using food or suppliments. This seems like a good group somebody should start up. The rub on alternative health, from juicing to kefir, has always been that it’s only supported by “anecdotal evidence”.

    Your statement above about research money only going to drugs that can be profitable is exactly what’s going on. However in this age of the web and groups forming etc., it seems like now might be the time for a change in this situation. What do you think?

  5. Dan, I agree that it might be time for a change, for just the reason you say. Indeed, I think we are in the middle of one. Or more precisely in the midst of the beginning. Self-experimentation is highly subversive; the mere fact that you’re reading this blog is a step forward. Self-experimentation is fundamentally a way to find new ideas. Another piece of a new ecology are Alexandra Carmichael’s CureTogether.com and the similar PatientsLikeMe.com. They are ways of testing new ideas. Both self-experimentation and the websites need no support at all from the health-care establishment.

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