Sulfamethoxazole and Trimethoprim (Page 2 of 6)


Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim tablets are contraindicated in the following situations:

  • known hypersensitivity to trimethoprim or sulfonamides
  • history of drug-induced immune thrombocytopenia with use of trimethoprim and/or sulfonamides
  • documented megaloblastic anemia due to folate deficiency
  • pediatric patients less than 2 months of age
  • marked hepatic damage
  • severe renal insufficiency when renal function status cannot be monitored
  • concomitant administration with dofetilide (see PRECAUTIONS).


Embryofetal Toxicity

Some epidemiologic studies suggest that exposure to sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim during pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations, particularly neural tube defects, cardiovascular malformations, urinary tract defects, oral clefts, and club foot. If sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be advised of the potential hazards to the fetus (see PRECAUTIONS).

Hypersensitivity and Other Serious or Fatal Reactions

Fatalities and serious adverse reactions including severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCARs) including Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis (AFND), acute generalized erythematous pustulosis (AGEP); fulminant hepatic necrosis; agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia and other blood dyscrasias; acute and delayed lung injury; anaphylaxis and circulatory shock have occurred with the administration of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim products, including sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).

Cough, shortness of breath and pulmonary infiltrates potentially representing hypersensitivity reactions of the respiratory tract have been reported in association with sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim treatment.

Other severe pulmonary adverse reactions occurring within days to week of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim initiation and resulting in prolonged respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), lung transplantation or death have also been reported in patients and otherwise healthy individuals treated with sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim products.

Circulatory shock with fever, severe hypotension, and confusion requiring intravenous fluid resuscitation and vasopressors has occurred within minutes to hours of re-challenge with sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim products, including sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, in patients with history of recent (days to weeks) exposure to sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim.

Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim should be discontinued at the first appearance of skin rash or any sign of a serious adverse reaction. A skin rash may be followed by a more severe reaction, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, DRESS, AFND, AGEP, hepatic necrosis, or serious blood disorders (see PRECAUTIONS and ADVERSE REACTIONS). Clinical signs, such as rash, pharyngitis, fever, arthralgia, cough, chest pain, dyspnea, pallor, purpura or jaundice may be early indications of serious reactions.


Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim-induced thrombocytopenia may be an immune-mediated disorder. Severe cases of thrombocytopenia that are fatal or life threatening have been reported. Thrombocytopenia usually resolves within a week upon discontinuation of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim.

Streptococcal Infections and Rheumatic Fever

The sulfonamides should not be used for treatment of group A β-hemolytic streptococcal infections. In an established infection, they will not eradicate the streptococcus and, therefore, will not prevent sequelae such as rheumatic fever.

Clostridioides difficile Associated Diarrhea

Clostridioides difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD) has been reported with use of nearly all antibacterial agents, including sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, 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 antimicrobial therapy and may require colectomy. CDAD must be considered in all patients who present with diarrhea following antibiotic 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 antibiotic use not directed against C. difficile may need to be discontinued. Appropriate fluid and electrolyte management, protein supplementation, antibiotic treatment of C. difficile, and surgical evaluation should be instituted as clinically indicated.

Risk Associated with Concurrent Use of Leucovorin for Pneumocystis jirovecii Pneumonia

Treatment failure and excess mortality were observed when sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim was used concomitantly with leucovorin for the treatment of HIV positive patients with P. jirovecii pneumonia in a randomized placebo-controlled trial.4 Avoid coadministration of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim and leucovorin during treatment of P. jirovecii pneumonia.


Development of Drug Resistant Bacteria

Prescribing sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim tablets in the absence of a proven or strongly suspected bacterial infection or a prophylactic indication is unlikely to provide benefit to the patient and increases the risk of the development of drug-resistant bacteria.

Folate Deficiency

Avoid use of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim in patients with impaired renal or hepatic function, in those with possible folate deficiency (e.g., the elderly, chronic alcoholics, patients receiving anticonvulsant therapy, patients with malabsorption syndrome, and patients in malnutrition states) and in those with severe allergies or bronchial asthma.

Hematological changes indicative of folic acid deficiency may occur in elderly patients or in patients with preexisting folic acid deficiency or kidney failure. These effects are reversible by folinic acid therapy (see PRECAUTIONS, Geriatric Use).


In glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficient individuals, hemolysis may occur. This reaction is frequently dose-related.


Cases of hypoglycemia in non-diabetic patients treated with sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim are seen rarely, usually occurring after a few days of therapy. Patients with renal dysfunction, liver disease, malnutrition or those receiving high doses of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim are particularly at risk.

Impaired Phenylalanine Metabolism

The trimethoprim component of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim has been noted to impair phenylalanine metabolism, but this is of no significance in phenylketonuric patients on appropriate dietary restriction.

Porphyria and Hypothyroidism

Like other drugs containing sulfonamides, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim can precipitate porphyria crisis and hypothyroidism. Avoid use of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim in patients with porphyria or thyroid dysfunction.

Potential Risk in the Treatment of Pneumocystis jirovecii Pneumonia in Patients with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

AIDS patients may not tolerate or respond to sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim in the same manner as non-AIDS patients. The incidence of adverse reactions, particularly rash, fever, leukopenia and elevated aminotransferase (transaminase) values, with sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim therapy in AIDS patients who are being treated for P. jirovecii pneumonia has been reported to be increased compared with the incidence normally associated with the use of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim in non-AIDS patients. If a patient develops skin rash, fever, leukopenia or any sign of adverse reaction, reevaluate benefit-risk of continuing therapy or re-challenge with sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim (see WARNINGS).

Avoid coadministration of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim and leucovorin during treatment of P. jirovecii pneumonia (see WARNINGS).

Electrolyte Abnormalities

Hyperkalemia: High dosage of trimethoprim, as used in patients with P. jirovecii pneumonia, induces a progressive but reversible increase of serum potassium concentrations in a substantial number of patients. Even treatment with recommended doses may cause hyperkalemia when trimethoprim is administered to patients with underlying disorders of potassium metabolism, with renal insufficiency, or if drugs known to induce hyperkalemia are given concomitantly. Close monitoring of serum potassium is warranted in these patients.

Hyponatremia: Severe and symptomatic hyponatremia can occur in patients receiving sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim, particularly for the treatment of P. jirovecii pneumonia. Evaluation for hyponatremia and appropriate correction is necessary in symptomatic patients to prevent life-threatening complications.

Crystalluria: During treatment, ensure adequate fluid intake and urinary output to prevent crystalluria. Patients who are “slow acetylators” may be more prone to idiosyncratic reactions to sulfonamides.

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