Azithromycin (Page 2 of 13)


The serum protein binding of azithromycin is variable in the concentration range approximating human exposure, decreasing from 51% at 0.02 mcg /mL to 7% at 2 mcg /mL.

Following oral administration, azithromycin is widely distributed throughout the body with an apparent steady-state volume of distribution of 31.1 L/kg. Greater azithromycin concentrations in tissues than in plasma or serum were observed. High tissue concentrations should not be interpreted to be quantitatively related to clinical efficacy. The antimicrobial activity of azithromycin is pH related and appears to be reduced with decreasing pH. However, the extensive distribution of drug to tissues may be relevant to clinical activity.

Selected tissue (or fluid) concentration and tissue (or fluid) to plasma/serum concentration ratios are shown in the following table:

Azithromycin Concentrations Following a 500 mg Dose (Two 250 mg Capsules) in Adults *
Tissue or Fluid Time After Dose (h) Tissue or Fluid Concentration (mcg/g or mcg/mL) Corresponding Plasma or Serum Level (mcg/mL) Tissue (Fluid)
Plasma (Serum) Ratio
Azithromycin tissue concentrations were originally determined using 250 mg capsules.
Sample was obtained 2 to 4 hours after the first dose.
Sample was obtained 10 to 12 hours after the first dose.
Dosing regimen of two doses of 250 mg each, separated by 12 hours.
Sample was obtained 19 hours after a single 500 mg dose.





















Tonsil §





Tonsil §










The extensive tissue distribution was confirmed by examination of additional tissues and fluids (bone, ejaculum, prostate, ovary, uterus, salpinx, stomach, liver, and gallbladder). As there are no data from adequate and well-controlled studies of azithromycin treatment of infections in these additional body sites, the clinical importance of these tissue concentration data is unknown.

Following a regimen of 500 mg on the first day and 250 mg daily for 4 days, only very low concentrations were noted in cerebrospinal fluid (less than 0.01 mcg/mL) in the presence of non-inflamed meninges.


In vitro and in vivo studies to assess the metabolism of azithromycin have not been performed.


Plasma concentrations of azithromycin following single 500 mg oral and i.v. doses declined in a polyphasic pattern with a mean apparent plasma clearance of 630 mL/min and terminal elimination half-life of 68 hours. The prolonged terminal half-life is thought to be due to extensive uptake and subsequent release of drug from tissues.

Biliary excretion of azithromycin, predominantly as unchanged drug, is a major route of elimination. Over the course of a week, approximately 6% of the administered dose appears as unchanged drug in urine.

Special Populations

Renal Insufficiency

Azithromycin pharmacokinetics were investigated in 42 adults (21 to 85 years of age) with varying degrees of renal impairment. Following the oral administration of a single 1,000 mg dose of azithromycin, mean Cmax and AUC0-120 increased by 5.1% and 4.2%, respectively in subjects with mild to moderate renal impairment (GFR 10 to 80 mL/min) compared to subjects with normal renal function (GFR >80 mL/min). The mean Cmax and AUC0-120 increased 61% and 35%, respectively in subjects with severe renal impairment (GFR <10 mL/min) compared to subjects with normal renal function (GFR >80 mL/min). (See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Hepatic Insufficiency

The pharmacokinetics of azithromycin in subjects with hepatic impairment have not been established.


There are no significant differences in the disposition of azithromycin between male and female subjects. No dosage adjustment is recommended based on gender.

Geriatric Patients

When studied in healthy elderly subjects aged 65 to 85 years, the pharmacokinetic parameters of azithromycin in elderly men were similar to those in young adults; however, in elderly women, although higher peak concentrations (increased by 30 to 50%) were observed, no significant accumulation occurred.

Pediatric Patients

In two clinical studies, azithromycin for oral suspension was dosed at 10 mg/kg on day 1, followed by 5 mg/kg on days 2 through 5 to two groups of pediatric patients (aged 1 to 5 years and 5 to 15 years, respectively). The mean pharmacokinetic parameters on day 5 were Cmax =0.216 mcg/mL, Tmax =1.9 hours, and AUC0-24 =1.822 mcg•hr/mL for the 1- to 5-year-old group and were Cmax =0.383 mcg/mL, Tmax =2.4 hours, and AUC0-24 =3.109 mcg•hr/mL for the 5- to 15-year-old group.

Two clinical studies were conducted in 68 pediatric patients aged 3 to 16 years to determine the pharmacokinetics and safety of azithromycin for oral suspension. Azithromycin was administered following a low-fat breakfast.

The first study consisted of 35 pediatric patients treated with 20 mg/kg/day (maximum daily dose 500 mg) for 3 days of whom 34 patients were evaluated for pharmacokinetics.

In the second study, 33 pediatric patients received doses of 12 mg/kg/day (maximum daily dose 500 mg) for 5 days of whom 31 patients were evaluated for pharmacokinetics.

In both studies, azithromycin concentrations were determined over a 24 hour period following the last daily dose. Patients weighing above 25.0 kg in the 3-day study or 41.7 kg in the 5-day study received the maximum adult daily dose of 500 mg. Eleven patients (weighing 25.0 kg or less) in the first study and 17 patients (weighing 41.7 kg or less) in the second study received a total dose of 60 mg/kg. The following table shows pharmacokinetic data in the subset of pediatric patients who received a total dose of 60 mg/kg.



[mean (SD)]

3-Day Regimen

(20 mg/kg x 3 days)

5-Day Regimen

(12 mg/kg x 5 days)




Cmax (mcg/mL)

1.1 (0.4)

0.5 (0.4)

Tmax (hr)

2.7 (1.9)

2.2 (0.8)

AUC0-24 (mcg•hr/mL)

7.9 (2.9)

3.9 (1.9)

The similarity of the overall exposure (AUC0-∞ ) between the 3-day and 5-day regimens in pediatric patients is unknown.

Single dose pharmacokinetics in pediatric patients given doses of 30 mg/kg have not been studied. (See DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION.)

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