Azithromycin Side Effects
The popular antibiotic azithromycin – marketed as Zithromax or Zmax – is cited in a recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Drug Safety Warning. The FDA states that the drug’s side effects may include abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart, which can lead to a potentially fatal irregular heart rhythm. Certain Zithromax patients are at particular risk for developing this potentially deadly condition.
The FDA says that patients should not stop taking azithromycin without talking to their health care professional.
They should seek immediate medical care if they experience:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
What is Azithromycin?
Azithromycin is a widely used antibiotic sold by Pfizer Inc. as Zithromax or Zmax. It is popular in its “Z-Pak” form, which provides a full regimen of treatment in five days instead of the standard 10 days most antibiotics require.
In 2011, approximately 40.3 million people in the U.S. received an outpatient prescription for azithromycin, according to the FDA.
Azithromycin belongs to the class of drugs known as “macrolide antibiotics,” which work by killing bacteria or preventing their growth.
It is administered as an injection, an oral liquid or in tablet form for such problems as:
- Ear infections
- Sinus infections (sinusitis)
- Sore throat (pharyngitis)
- Skin infections
- Genital ulcers caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
In addition to many minor side effects, azithromycin can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart. This may lead to an irregular heart rhythm (or arrhythmia), which can cause sudden cardiac arrest (heart attack).
A New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study reported “a small absolute increase in cardiovascular deaths” in patients treated with a five-day course of azithromycin compared to patients treated with other antibiotics or to patients not treated with medication.
The Mayo Clinic explains that heart arrhythmias occur when the electrical impulses in your heart that coordinate heartbeats don’t work properly and cause your heart to beat too fast, too slow or irregularly.
The FDA and the NEJM says patients at particular risk of developing abnormal heart rhythms after taking azithromycin include those with:
- Existing QT interval prolongation, or a longer-than-normal time between two specific measurable points in your heartbeat
- A slower than normal heart rate
- Low blood levels of potassium or magnesium.
The FDA has already directed Pfizer to include information regarding prolonged QT intervals on the Zithromax packaging labels.
Contact Our Azithromycin Side Effects Lawyers
Prescription drugs should not cause such potentially deadly side effects as abnormal heart rhythm or any problem that can result in cardiovascular death. If you or a loved one of yours has suffered a potentially deadly side effect from azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax or Z-Pak), you should contact an experienced defective medical products attorney.
The azithromycin side effects lawyers of the Driscoll Firm, LLC, have successfully pursued defective pharmaceutical (drugs) claims for injured patients across the United States. Our legal work has protected the rights of many individuals and families and helped them obtain compensation to assist them during recoveries from illness, or after the loss of a loved one.
Contact us toll-free today or through our online form for a free initial consultation. If we can help you, we will proceed on a contingency fee basis. You won’t be charged a fee until you are awarded compensation. Let our azithromycin side effects attorneys get started on your case today.
For more information:
- FDA Drug Safety Communication: Azithromycin (Zithromax or Zmax) and the risk of potentially fatal heart rhythms, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Azithromycin and the Risk of Cardiovascular Death, The New England Journal of Medicine
- Azithromycin (Intravenous Route), Mayo Clinic
- Azithromycin (Oral Route), Mayo Clinic
- Heart Arrhythmias, Mayo Clinic