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Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Jun;54(12):1699-709. doi: 10.1093/cid/cis270. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

Excess deaths associated with tigecycline after approval based on noninferiority trials.

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Critical Care Medicine Department, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



On the basis of noninferiority trials, tigecycline received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2005. In 2010, the FDA warned in a safety communication that tigecycline was associated with an increased risk of death.


PubMed, EMBASE, Scopus, and were searched using the terms "tigecycline" and "randomized controlled trial (RCT)" through April 2011. Excess deaths and noncure rates for both approved and nonapproved indications were examined using meta-analysis.


Ten published and 3 unpublished studies met inclusion criteria (N = 7434). No significant heterogeneity was seen for mortality (I(2 )= 0%; P = .99) or noncure rates (I(2 )= 25%; P = .19). Across randomized controlled trials, tigecycline was associated with increased mortality (risk difference [RD], 0.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.1%-1.2%; P = .01) and noncure rates (RD, 2.9%; 95% CI, 0.6%-5.2%; P = .01). Effects were not isolated to type of infection or comparator antibiotic regimen, and the impact on survival remained significant when limited to trials of approved indications (I(2 )= 0%; RD, 0.6%; P = .04). A pooled analysis of the 5 trials completed by early 2005 before tigecycline was approved would have demonstrated a similar harmful effect of tigecycline on survival (I(2 )= 0%; RD, 0.7%; P = .06).


Pooling noninferiority studies to examine survival may help ensure the safety and efficacy of new antibiotics. The association of tigecycline with excess deaths and noncure includes indications for which it is approved and marketed. Tigecycline cannot be relied on in serious infections.

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