Study Questions Zithromax Effectiveness Against Lower Respiratory Tract Infections
Researchers warn that prescribing Zithromax to treat infections like bronchitis or pneumonia may be no more effective than using a placebo, but the popular antibiotic expose individuals to potentially dangerous side effects like abdominal pain.
Lower respiratory tract infections like bronchitis and pneumonia are frequently treated with antibiotics, but the findings of a study published last month in the medical journal The Lancet indicate that Zithromax and other azithromycin-based antibiotics provide no benefits against such illnesses.
Duke University researchers conducted a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind trial at five health centers in the United States. The study included adults ages 18 years or older with suspected lower respiratory tract infections with symptoms lasting from 24 hours to 28 days.
Researchers compared the efficacy and safety of azithromycin compared to using a placebo to treat lower repository tract infections in patients with low procalcitonin.
From 2017 to 2020, 500 patients were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to receive Zithromax or a placebo.
Overall, 69% of patients receiving Zithromax had symptom improvement after five days of treatment, compared to 63% of patients who received a placebo. Researchers concluded there was no significant statistical difference in improvement in bronchitis or pneumonia symptoms between the two groups.
Zithromax Adverse Side Effects
Additionally, in the new study, there was little difference in the rate of adverse events between Zithromax and the placebo. However, nearly one-quarter of patients in the Zithromax group suffered abdominal pain compared to the placebo group.
There was no significant difference between symptom improvement between the two groups, indicating that taking Zithromax provides no clinical advantage compared to not taking an antibiotic to treat lower respiratory infections.
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In addition, taking antibiotics when not clinically necessary, especially antibiotics like Zithromax, increases the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Zithromax has also been linked to increased heart risks when used in combination with other drugs, which is often likely when patients are suffering from serious ailments like pneumonia. Patients experienced increased episodes of cardiac arrest, fainting, and heart palpitations.
“After accounting for both the rates of clinical improvement and solicited adverse events at day 5, it is unclear whether antibiotics are indicated for patients with lower respiratory tract infection and a low procalcitonin concentration,” the researchers concluded.
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