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Side effects of the antibiotic Biaxin may increase the risk of serious bleeding problems, especially when given in conjunction with some blood thinners, according to the findings of new research.
In a study published earlier this week in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, Canadian researchers looked at the risk of hospitalization due to bleeding problems when Biaxin (clarithromycin) or Zithromax (azithromycin) were used at the same time as direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC). They found that Biaxin users faced a more than 70% increased risk of bleeding problems.
According to the researchers, Biaxin patients are commonly found to be taking blood thinners at the same time, which raised concerns about an increased risk of hemorrhaging. As a result, they sought out to assess the 30-day risk of hospital admission due to bleeding events among older patients taking Biaxin with blood thinners.
To do so, researchers conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study of patients with a mean age of 77.6 years. The study involved nearly 6,600 patients newly co-prescribed Biaxin and more than 18,300 patients newly co-prescribed Zithromax or a similar azithromycin-based antibiotic who were also taking either Xarelto, Pradaxa or Eliquis. The study involved patients from Ontario, Canada from June 23, 2009, through December 31, 2016.
According to the findings, both antibiotics appeared to increase the risk of hospitalization due to hemorrhaging within 30 days of beginning treatment. However, Biaxin was linked to a 71% higher risk than azithromycin.
“This study suggests that, among adults of advanced age taking a DOAC, concurrent use of clarithromycin compared with azithromycin was associated with a small but statistically significantly greater 30-day risk of hospital admission with major hemorrhage,” the researchers concluded.
The researchers found that the most commonly prescribed blood thinner was Xarelto.
Biaxin and other clarithromycin antibiotics are used to treat a wide range of infections, including those affecting the lungs, skin, ears and sinuses.Both Biaxin and Zithromax belongs to a class of antibiotics known as macrolides.
Both antibiotics have been previously linked to an increased risk of heart problems.
In January 2016, a study published by researchers from Hong Kong found that the risk of heart attacks was more than double among Biaxan users, compared to those given amoxicillin. A similar study published in 2013 also found an increased risk of Biaxin heart problems among patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).