Z-Pak Antibiotic Raises Death Risk for Some, Says Study
Excerpted from ABC News ( Posted: 05/16/2012)
Patients prescribed the antibiotic azithromycin are more likely to die than those prescribed a different antibiotic, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. These results were especially pronounced for those who died from heart attacks, strokes, sudden cardiac death and other cardiovascular causes.
Last year, doctors wrote 55.3 million prescriptions for Azithromycin, commonly known by the trade name Z-Pak, according to IMS Health. Like the popular antibiotic amoxicillin, azithromycin is commonly prescribed to help fight off bacterial infections. But while they are often prescribed for similar conditions, the two drugs work differently from each other.
Wayne Ray, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville, Tenn., and lead author of the study, says he thinks many doctors prescribe azithromycin instead of amoxicillin because of its easier regimen; patients on azithromycin take fewer pills over fewer days, which means they are more likely to finish their entire course of medicine. Finishing the entire course not only leads to more effective treatment, but it also lessens the risk of the patient developing a drug-resistant bug.
But, Ray says of azithromycin, “the risk of death may outweigh convenience and compliance, at least for high-risk patients.”