FDA warns against antibiotic’s side effects
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that taking the antibiotic azithromycin or Zithromax increases the risk of cardiovascular death of users with preexisting heart problems.
Citing a study on the side effects of the drug for pneumonia, bronchitis, wheezing and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the FDA said azithromycin can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm.
Particularly at risk are people with existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or use of certain drugs for treating abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias.
The study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that treatment using azithromycin was linked to more cardiac death than the use of the antibiotic amoxicillin.
The study, covering 350,000 Tennessee patients prescribed with azithromycin, resulted in 85 deaths per one million treatment courses.
Pfizer is the maker of Zithromax. Sale of the drug last year generated $453 million for the pharmaceutical company.