Zithromax Side Effects Result in Worse Airflow for Patients With Popcorn Lung Disease: Study

New research appears to suggest hat Zithromax and similar antibiotics should be disqualified from consideration as a treatment option against bronhchiolitis obliterans syndrome, a severe respiratory disorder commonly referred to as “Popcorn lung.” 

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on August 8, researchers looked at the use of Zithromax (azithromycin) for the treatment of bronhchiolitis obliterans among patients who recently underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT).

The condition is referred to as “popcorn lung” because of its prevalence among workers in microwave popcorn factories and those regularly exposed to certain flavoring additive chemicals used in recent years.

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As part of this new study, French researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial involving 465 patients in 19 French academic transplant centers. Patients either received a 250 mg dose of azithromycin three times a week or a placebo.

The study was halted early due to the number of hematological relapses. By the time the study was halted, 78 patients given the antibiotic had died, compared to 60 given a placebo. In addition, 54 patients given azithromycin had experienced airflow decline, compared to 50 given the placebo.

“Among patients undergoing allogeneic HSCT for hematological malignancy, early administration of azithromycin resulted in worse airflow decline-free survival than did placebo; these findings are limited by early trial termination,” the researchers determined. “The potential for harm related to relapse requires further investigation.”

Bronchioles obliterans is characterized by the scarring and inflammation of small airways, known as bronchioles, which leads to diminished lung capacity and breathing problems. The disease is irreversible and severe cases may require lung transplants and can lead to death.

Since most people who develop bronchiolitis obliterans work in plants that use the butter flavoring chemical diacetyl, a number of popcorn lung lawsuits have been filed in recent years by plant workers who allege that inadequate warnings were provided about the serious health risks.

Zithromax Health Risks

There are also health concerns linked to the side effects of Zithromax and similar antibiotics, known as macrolides.

The FDA issued a Zithromax drug safety communication in March 2013, warning that the antibiotic can cause serious and potentially fatal abnormal heart activity. The FDA indicated that Zithromax can disrupt the electrical activity of the heart. The agency’s conclusions came after an investigation into the risk of Zithromax heart issues that was started in May 2012, examining data from a number of studies.

In May 2012, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicinefirst warned about the potential heart risks. Researchers found patients were 2.5 times more likely to die due to heart related problems on a five day Zithromax treatment when they compared it to treatment with other antibiotics or no antibiotic therapy.

Macrolides have been known to cause abnormal heart rhythm problems, including QT interval prolongation. These side effects can lead to a fatal heart condition, known as torsades de pointes.

Other studies have warned of more possible problems linked to the medications. In March 2015, a study published in PLOS One found that when pregnant women took macrolides, they were at an 80% increased risk of giving birth to a child born with cerebral palsy or epilepsy.

Another study, published in November 2015 by Chinese researchers, also linked Zithromax use to an increased risk of heart attacks.


  • francineAugust 14, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    i had very bad side effects from AZITHROMYCIN! thought i was gonna have heart attacks a few times while on this poson

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