Last week the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to doctors and patients regarding the antibiotic Zithromax. The popular medicine can cause rare but deadly heart rhythms in some patients.
The drug is produced by Pfizer and is commonly used to treat bronchitis, pneumonia, and other infections. It is popular because it can be taken for fewer days. According to an article from the Associated Press, patients at risk of heart problems, including those with irregular heartbeats or low levels of potassium or magnesium in their blood should be prescribed other antibiotics. New warnings will be added to the label of Zithromax.
This news is a result of a study released by Vanderbild University that showed a slightly higher chance for deadly heart problems in patients taking the drug. The results suggested there would be 47 extra heart-related deaths per 1 million courses of treatment with Zithromax, compared with another antibiotic, amoxicillin. A treatment course with Zithromax is about five days, and treatment with amoxicillin is around 10 days.
The article noted that in 2011 more that 40 million patients in the U.S. received a prescription for Zithromax.