Salix Pharmaceuticals says results of a recent study suggest that its travelers diarrhea drug Rifaximin was well tolerated and may be effective for the treatment of active Crohn’s disease.

The news sent Salix stock (Nasdaq: SXLP) up 45 cents, or 2.4 percent, to close at $18.99.

Study results were announced by Raleigh-based Salix at the 68th annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Baltimore.

Crohn’s disease causes inflammation in the small intestine. The inflammation can cause pain and can make the intestines empty frequently, resulting in diarrhea.

Data from 29 patients show that at the end of a 16-week treatment period, Rifaximin reduced the mean Crohn’s Disease Activity Index (CDAI) score, a standard measure of treatment effectiveness in patients with Crohn’s disease, by 43 percent.

The majority of patients exhibited at least a 70-point improvement in CDAI score by week four. By the end of the 16-week treatment period, 78 percent of patients experienced at least a 70-point improvement in CDAI score.

“We are encouraged by these results,” stated Carolyn Logan, president and chief executive officer of Salix, “and plan to continue to investigate the promise of Rifaximin as a potential treatment for a number of enteric infections.”

While Rifaximin was well-tolerated overall, Salix says one serious adverse event known as oropharyngeal (oral airway) swelling was reported, although it was considered unrelated to study medication.

Patients enrolled in the study had symptoms of active Crohn’s disease for at least three months before study entry. Patients were treated with a 200 milligram oral dose of Rifaximin three times daily for 16 weeks.

Rifaximin is a non-systemic, gastrointestinal site-specific antibiotic. Salix currently is seeking FDA approval to market Rifaximin in the United States for the treatment of infectious diarrhea in travelers.