Mechanism of Action
Azithromycin acts by binding to the 23S rRNA of the 50S ribosomal subunit of susceptible microorganisms inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis and impeding the assembly of the 50S ribosomal subunit.
Azithromycin demonstrates cross resistance with erythromycin. The most frequently encountered mechanism of resistance to azithromycin is modification of the 23S rRNA target, most often by methylation. Ribosomal modifications can determine cross resistance to other macrolides, lincosamides, and streptogramin B (MLSB phenotype).
Azithromycin has been shown to be active against most isolates of the following microorganisms, both in vitro and in clinical infections [see Indications and Usage (1)].
The following in vitro data are available, but their clinical significance is unknown. At least 90 percent of the following bacteria exhibit an in vitro minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) less than or equal to the susceptible breakpoint for azithromycin against isolates of similar genus or organism group. However, the efficacy of azithromycin in treating clinical infections caused by these bacteria has not been established in adequate and well-controlled clinical trials.
Beta-hemolytic streptococci (Groups C, F, G)
Viridans group streptococci
For specific information regarding susceptibility test interpretive criteria and associated test methods and quality control standards recognized by FDA for this drug, please see: https://www.fda.gov/STIC.
Long-term studies in animals have not been performed to evaluate carcinogenic potential. Azithromycin has shown no mutagenic potential in standard laboratory tests: mouse lymphoma assay, human lymphocyte clastogenic assay, and mouse bone marrow clastogenic assay. In fertility studies conducted in male and female rats, oral administration of azithromycin for 64 to 66 days (males) or 15 days (females) prior to and during cohabitation resulted in decreased pregnancy rate at 20 and 30 mg/kg/day when both males and females were treated with azithromycin. This minimal effect on pregnancy rate (approximately 12% reduction compared to concurrent controls) did not become more pronounced when the dose was increased from 20 to 30 mg/kg/day (approximately 0.4 to 0.6 times the adult daily dose of 500 mg based on body surface area) and it was not observed when only one animal in the mated pair was treated. There were no effects on any other reproductive parameters, and there were no effects on fertility at 10 mg/kg/day. The relevance of these findings to patients being treated with azithromycin at the doses and durations recommended in the prescribing information is uncertain.
Phospholipidosis (intracellular phospholipid accumulation) has been observed in some tissues of mice, rats, and dogs given multiple doses of azithromycin. It has been demonstrated in numerous organ systems (e.g., eye, dorsal root ganglia, liver, gallbladder, kidney, spleen, and/or pancreas) in dogs and rats treated with azithromycin at doses which, expressed on the basis of body surface area, are similar to or less than the highest recommended adult human dose. This effect has been shown to be reversible after cessation of azithromycin treatment. Based on the pharmacokinetic data, phospholipidosis has been seen in the rat (50 mg/kg/day dose) at the observed maximal plasma concentration of 1.3 mcg/mL (1.6 times the observed Cmax of 0.821 mcg/mL at the adult dose of 2 g). Similarly, it has been shown in the dog (10 mg/kg/day dose) at the observed maximal serum concentration of 1 mcg/mL (1.2 times the observed Cmax of 0.821 mcg/mL at the adult dose of 2 g). Phospholipidosis was also observed in neonatal rats dosed for 18 days at 30 mg/kg/day, which is less than the pediatric dose of 60 mg/kg based on the surface area. It was not observed in neonatal rats treated for 10 days at 40 mg/kg/day with mean maximal serum concentrations of 1.86 mcg/mL, approximately 1.5 times the Cmax of 1.27 mcg/mL at the pediatric dose. Phospholipidosis has been observed in neonatal dogs (10 mg/kg/day) at maximum mean whole blood concentrations of 3.54 mcg/mL, approximately 3 times the pediatric dose Cmax . The significance of these findings for animals and for humans is unknown.
Acute Bacterial Exacerbations of Chronic Bronchitis
In a randomized, double-blind controlled clinical trial of acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis (AECB), azithromycin (500 mg once daily for 3 days) was compared with clarithromycin (500 mg twice daily for 10 days). The primary endpoint of this trial was the clinical cure rate at Days 21 to 24. For the 304 patients analyzed in the modified intent-to-treat analysis at the Days 21 to 24 visit, the clinical cure rate for 3 days of azithromycin was 85% (125/147) compared to 82% (129/157) for 10 days of clarithromycin.
The following outcomes were the clinical cure rates at the Days 21 to 24 visit for the bacteriologically evaluable patients by pathogen:
|Pathogen||Azithromycin (3 Days)||Clarithromycin (10 Days)|
|S. pneumoniae||29/32 (91%)||21/27 (78%)|
|H. influenzae||12/14 (86%)||14/16 (88%)|
|M. catarrhalis||11/12 (92%)||12/15 (80%)|
Acute Bacterial Sinusitis
In a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy controlled clinical trial of acute bacterial sinusitis, azithromycin (500 mg once daily for 3 days) was compared with amoxicillin/clavulanate (500/125 mg three times a day for 10 days). Clinical response assessments were made at Day 10 and Day 28. The primary endpoint of this trial was prospectively defined as the clinical cure rate at Day 28. For the 594 patients analyzed in the modified intent to treat analysis at the Day 10 visit, the clinical cure rate for 3 days of azithromycin was 88% (268/303) compared to 85% (248/291) for 10 days of amoxicillin/clavulanate. For the 586 patients analyzed in the modified intent to treat analysis at the Day 28 visit, the clinical cure rate for 3 days of azithromycin was 71.5% (213/298) compared to 71.5% (206/288), with a 97.5% confidence interval of –8.4 to 8.3, for 10 days of amoxicillin/clavulanate.
In an open label, non-comparative study requiring baseline transantral sinus punctures, the following outcomes were the clinical success rates at the Day 7 and Day 28 visits for the modified intent to treat patients administered 500 mg of azithromycin once daily for 3 days with the following pathogens:
Clinical Success Rates of Azithromycin (500 mg per day for 3 Days)
|Pathogen||Day 7||Day 28|
|S. pneumoniae||23/26 (88%)||21/25 (84%)|
|H. influenzae||28/32 (87%)||24/32 (75%)|
|M. catarrhalis||14/15 (93%)||13/15 (87%)|
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