RALEIGH…Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (Nasdaq:SLXP) has started shipping Xifaxan tablets to distributors nationally, the company says.

Approved for treatment of traveler’s diarrhea by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May, the drug has been used in Italy for more than 17 years, with more than 500 million tablets prescribed.

Salix licensed rifaximin, name of the drug outside the U.S., from Alfa Wasserman.