FDA Warns that Zithromax May Cause Irregular Heart Rhythms By Tod Aronovitz | 03/13/13 | 0 Comment

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to the public about the often-prescribed medication azithromycin, also marketed under the names of Zithromax or Zmax. The drug, which is commonly used to treat or prevent bacterial infections such as sinusitis, tonsillitis and pneumonia, can cause irregular heart rhythm that could be fatal in some people.

Because the drug may cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart, patients at particular risk for developing this condition include those with known risk factors such as existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or who use certain drugs to treat abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias, according to the FDA.

As a result, the azithromycin drug labels have been strengthened in the Warnings and Precautions section, and the FDA will provide relevant updates to health care professionals and the public as information becomes available. Doctors need take into account the risk of fatal heart rhythms when considering azithromycin as a treatment option for patients, especially those with compromised cardiovascular systems.

In May, the FDA released a statement about a New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study that found an increase in cardiovascular deaths in patients treated with azithromycin compared to those treated with amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin, or no antibacterial drug.

Approximately 40.3 million individuals in the U.S. received an outpatient prescription for the macrolide azithromycin in 2011, according to the FDA. Zithromax is Pfizer’s branded version of azithromycin.

Do not stop taking azithromycin without talking to your health care professional first. Click on the link to read more about the FDA warning on azithromycin.

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