Rifaximin is a broad spectrum oral antibiotic with antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. It is poorly absorbed and thus has a highly favorable safety profile. Rifaximin has been shown to be effective in the treatment of traveler’s diarrhea, functional bloating and irritable bowel syndrome, small bowel bacterial overgrowth and in the prevention of recurrent overt hepatic encephalopathy. In addition, there is emerging evidence for a possible beneficial effect of rifaximin in the treatment of uncomplicated diverticular disease and in the prevention of recurrent diverticulitis. The use of rifaximin is associated with a low incidence of development, or persistence of spontaneous bacterial mutants.

Moreover, the development of important drug resistance among extra-intestinal flora during rifaximin therapy is unlikely because of minimal systemic absorption and limited cross-resistance of rifaximin with other antimicrobials. This review addresses the current and emerging role of rifaximin in the treatment of gastrointestinal and liver disorders.