The prescription drug Bethkis is used to treat a certain bacterial infection in those who have cystic fibrosis. It is approved for adults and children as young as six years old. As an antibiotic, the drug works by interfering with how the bacteria grow and multiply. It can also be given off-label to treat lung infections in those who do not have cystic fibrosis.
Bethkis® (tobramycin inhalation solution) is a prescription antibiotic. It belongs to a group of antibiotics known as aminoglycosides. Bethkis is used to treat people with cystic fibrosis who have an infection with a type of bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited condition that affects the lungs and digestive system. People with it have a defective gene that causes the body to produce abnormally thick and sticky mucus. The thick, sticky mucus builds up in the lungs and blocks the airways. It also blocks the tubes or ducts in the pancreas.
The symptoms and severity of cystic fibrosis vary from person to person. The mucus it causes can lead to a variety of complications, mostly in the digestive and respiratory systems. For example, when the tubes of the pancreas are blocked, digestive enzymes produced by the pancreas cannot reach the small intestines, where they are needed to help break down food. As a result, the body cannot properly absorb fats and proteins, which can lead to malnutrition and poor growth.
In the lungs, the thick mucus makes it easy for bacteria to grow, which can lead to repeated serious lung infections. Over time, mucus buildup and infections will lead to permanent lung damage, including the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) and cysts in the lungs.
(Click Cystic Fibrosis Symptoms for more information about common signs of this condition.)
There is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis, but treatment can help control symptoms and reduce complications. Much of the treatment is aimed at loosening and removing mucus from the lungs, providing adequate nutrition, and preventing and controlling lung infections (see Treatment for Cystic Fibrosis). Because most people with this condition have ongoing, low-grade lung infections, antibiotics are an important part of treatment.
The most common chronic lung infection in people with cystic fibrosis is caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Bethkis is an antibiotic that is effective against this bacteria.
Bethkis comes in the form of a liquid that is inhaled into the mouth. You must use a nebulizer and an air compressor to take the medicine. The nebulizer and air compressor turn liquid Bethkis into a mist so it can be inhaled. This allows the medicine to reach the lungs quickly.
Bethkis has not been studied in people with severe cystic fibrosis. It has also not been studied in people who are colonized with a bacterium called Burkholderia cepacia. Therefore, it is not known whether the drug is safe and effective for such people.