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Efficacy and safety of switching from intravenous to oral antibiotics (amoxicillin-clavulanic acid) versus a full course of intravenous antibiotics in neonates with probable bacterial infection (RAIN): a multicentre, randomised, open-label, non-inferiority trial.

BACKGROUND: Switching from intravenous antibiotic therapy to oral antibiotic therapy among neonates is not yet practised in high-income settings due to uncertainties about exposure and safety. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of early intravenous-to-oral antibiotic switch therapy compared with a full course of intravenous antibiotics among neonates with probable bacterial infection.

METHODS: In this multicentre, randomised, open-label, non-inferiority trial, patients were recruited at 17 hospitals in the Netherlands. Neonates (postmenstrual age ≥35 weeks, postnatal age 0-28 days, bodyweight ≥2 kg) in whom prolonged antibiotic treatment was indicated because of a probable bacterial infection, were randomly assigned (1:1) to switch to an oral suspension of amoxicillin 75 mg/kg plus clavulanic acid 18·75 mg/kg (in a 4:1 dosing ratio, given daily in three doses) or continue on intravenous antibiotics (according to the local protocol). Both groups were treated for 7 days. The primary outcome was cumulative bacterial reinfection rate 28 days after treatment completion. A margin of 3% was deemed to indicate non-inferiority, thus if the reinfection rate in the oral amoxicillin-clavulanic acid group was less than 3% higher than that in the intravenous antibiotic group the null hypothesis would be rejected. The primary outcome was assessed in the intention-to-treat population (ie, all patients who were randomly assigned and completed the final follow-up visit on day 35) and the per protocol population. Safety was analysed in all patients who received at least one administration of the allocated treatment and who completed at least one follow-up visit. Secondary outcomes included clinical deterioration and duration of hospitalisation. This trial was registered with, NCT03247920, and EudraCT, 2016-004447-36.

FINDINGS: Between Feb 8, 2018 and May 12, 2021, 510 neonates were randomly assigned (n=255 oral amoxicillin-clavulanic group; n=255 intravenous antibiotic group). After excluding those who withdrew consent (n=4), did not fulfil inclusion criteria (n=1), and lost to follow-up (n=1), 252 neonates in each group were included in the intention-to-treat population. The cumulative reinfection rate at day 28 was similar between groups (one [<1%] of 252 neonates in the amoxicillin-clavulanic acid group vs one [<1%] of 252 neonates in the intravenous antibiotics group; between-group difference 0 [95% CI -1·9 to 1·9]; pnon-inferiority <0·0001). No statistically significant differences were observed in reported adverse events (127 [50%] vs 113 [45%]; p=0·247). In the intention-to-treat population, median duration of hospitalisation was significantly shorter in the amoxicillin-clavulanic acid group than the intravenous antibiotics group (3·4 days [95% CI 3·0-4·1] vs 6·8 days [6·5-7·0]; p<0·0001).

INTERPRETATION: An early intravenous-to-oral antibiotic switch with amoxicillin-clavulanic acid is non-inferior to a full course of intravenous antibiotics in neonates with probable bacterial infection and is not associated with an increased incidence of adverse events.

FUNDING: The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars, and the Sophia Foundation for Scientific Research.

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