Azithromycin (Page 2 of 6)

5.4 QT Prolongation

Prolonged cardiac repolarization and QT interval, imparting a risk of developing cardiac arrhythmia and torsades de pointes, have been seen with treatment with macrolides, including azithromycin. Cases of torsades de pointes have been spontaneously reported during postmarketing surveillance in patients receiving azithromycin. Providers should consider the risk of QT prolongation, which can be fatal when weighing the risks and benefits of azithromycin for at-risk groups including:

  • patients with known prolongation of the QT interval, a history of torsades de pointes, congenital long QT syndrome, bradyarrhythmias or uncompensated heart failure
  • patients on drugs known to prolong the QT interval
  • patients with ongoing proarrhythmic conditions such as uncorrected hypokalemia or hypomagnesemia, clinically significant bradycardia, and in patients receiving Class IA (quinidine, procainamide) or Class III (dofetilide, amiodarone, sotalol) antiarrhythmic agents.

Elderly patients may be more susceptible to drug-associated effects on the QT interval.

5.5 Clostridium Difficile -Associated Diarrhea

Clostridium difficile -associated diarrhea (CDAD) has been reported with use of nearly all antibacterial agents, including azithromycin for injection, and may range in severity from mild diarrhea to fatal colitis. Treatment with antibacterial agents alters the normal flora of the colon leading to overgrowth of C. difficile.

C. difficile produces toxins A and B which contribute to the development of CDAD. Hypertoxin producing strains of C. difficile cause increased morbidity and mortality, as these infections can be refractory to antibacterial therapy and may require colectomy. CDAD must be considered in all patients who present with diarrhea following antibacterial use. Careful medical history is necessary since CDAD has been reported to occur over two months after the administration of antibacterial agents.

If CDAD is suspected or confirmed, ongoing antibacterial use not directed against C. difficile may need to be discontinued. Appropriate fluid and electrolyte management, protein supplementation, antibacterial treatment of C. difficile , and surgical evaluation should be instituted as clinically indicated.

5.6 Exacerbation of Myasthenia Gravis

Exacerbations of symptoms of myasthenia gravis and new onset of myasthenic syndrome have been reported in patients receiving azithromycin therapy.

5.7 Infusion Site Reactions

Azithromycin for injection should be reconstituted and diluted as directed and administered as an intravenous infusion over not less than 60 minutes [see Dosage and Administration ( 2)].

Local IV site reactions have been reported with the intravenous administration of azithromycin. The incidence and severity of these reactions were the same when 500 mg azithromycin was given over 1 hour (2 mg/mL as 250 mL infusion) or over 3 hr (1 mg/mL as 500 mL infusion) [see Adverse Reactions ( 6)]. All volunteers who received infusate concentrations above 2 mg/mL experienced local IV site reactions and, therefore, higher concentrations should be avoided.

5.8 Development of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Prescribing azithromycin for injection in the absence of a proven or strongly suspected bacterial infection is unlikely to provide benefit to the patient and increases the risk of the development of drug-resistant bacteria.

6 ADVERSE REACTIONS

6.1 Clinical Trials Experience

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

In clinical trials of intravenous azithromycin for community-acquired pneumonia, in which 2 to 5 IV doses were given, the reported adverse reactions were mild to moderate in severity and were reversible upon discontinuation of the drug. The majority of patients in these trials had one or more co-morbid diseases and were receiving concomitant medications. Approximately 1.2% of the patients discontinued intravenous azithromycin therapy, and a total of 2.4% discontinued azithromycin therapy by either the intravenous or oral route because of clinical or laboratory side effects.

In clinical trials conducted in patients with pelvic inflammatory disease, in which 1 to 2 IV doses were given, 2% of women who received monotherapy with azithromycin and 4% who received azithromycin plus metronidazole discontinued therapy due to clinical side effects.

Clinical adverse reactions leading to discontinuations from these studies were gastrointestinal (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), and rashes; laboratory side effects leading to discontinuation were increases in transaminase levels and/or alkaline phosphatase levels.

Overall, the most common adverse reactions associated with treatment in adult patients who received IV/Oral azithromycin in studies of community-acquired pneumonia were related to the gastrointestinal system with diarrhea/loose stools (4.3%), nausea (3.9%), abdominal pain (2.7%), and vomiting (1.4%) being the most frequently reported.

Approximately 12% of patients experienced a side effect related to the intravenous infusion; most common were pain at the injection site (6.5%) and local inflammation (3.1%).

The most common adverse reactions associated with treatment in adult women who received IV/Oral azithromycin in trials of pelvic inflammatory disease were related to the gastrointestinal system. Diarrhea (8.5%) and nausea (6.6%) were most commonly reported, followed by vaginitis (2.8%), abdominal pain (1.9%), anorexia (1.9%), rash and pruritus (1.9%). When azithromycin was co-administered with metronidazole in these trials, a higher proportion of women experienced adverse reactions of nausea (10.3%), abdominal pain (3.7%), vomiting (2.8%), infusion site reaction, stomatitis, dizziness, or dyspnea (all at 1.9%).

Adverse reactions that occurred with a frequency of 1% or less included the following:

Gastrointestinal: Dyspepsia, flatulence, mucositis, oral moniliasis, and gastritis.

Nervous system: Headache, somnolence.

Allergic: Bronchospasm.

Special senses: Taste perversion.

6.2 Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of azithromycin. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Adverse reactions reported with azithromycin during the postmarketing period in adult and/or pediatric patients for which a causal relationship may not be established include:

Allergic: Arthralgia, edema, urticaria and angioedema.

Cardiovascular: Arrhythmias including ventricular tachycardia and hypotension. There have been reports of QT prolongation and torsades de pointes.

Gastrointestinal: Anorexia, constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence, vomiting/diarrhea, pseudomembranous colitis, pancreatitis, oral candidiasis, pyloric stenosis, and reports of tongue discoloration.

General: Asthenia, paresthesia, fatigue, malaise and anaphylaxis (including fatalities).

Genitourinary: Interstitial nephritis and acute renal failure and vaginitis.

Hematopoietic: Thrombocytopenia.

Liver/biliary: Abnormal liver function, hepatitis, cholestatic jaundice, hepatic necrosis, and hepatic failure [see Warnings and Precautions ( 5.2)].

Nervous system: Convulsions, dizziness/vertigo, headache, somnolence, hyperactivity, nervousness, agitation and syncope.

Psychiatric: Aggressive reaction and anxiety.

Skin/appendages: Pruritus, serious skin reactions including, erythema multiforme, AGEP, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and DRESS.

Special senses: Hearing disturbances including hearing loss, deafness and/or tinnitus and reports of taste/smell perversion and/or loss.

6.3 Laboratory Abnormalities

Significant abnormalities (irrespective of drug relationship) occurring during the clinical trials were reported as follows:

  • elevated ALT (SGPT), AST (SGOT), creatinine (4 to 6%)
  • elevated LDH, bilirubin (1 to 3%)
  • leukopenia, neutropenia, decreased platelet count, and elevated serum alkaline phosphatase (less than 1%)

When follow-up was provided, changes in laboratory tests appeared to be reversible.

In multiple-dose clinical trials involving more than 750 patients treated with azithromycin (IV/Oral), less than 2% of patients discontinued azithromycin therapy because of treatment-related liver enzyme abnormalities.

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