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Eur Respir J. 2012 Oct;40(4):814-22. Epub 2012 May 31.

Protecting the tuberculosis drug pipeline: stating the case for the rational use of fluoroquinolones.

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WHO Collaborating Centre for TB and Lung Diseases, Fondazione S. Maugeri, Care and Research Institute, Tradate, Italy.


The use of fluoroquinolones (FQs) to treat lower respiratory tract infections (LTRI) other than tuberculosis (TB) allows selection of FQ-resistant TB when TB is misdiagnosed. This study maps national guidelines on the use of FQs for LRTI in Europe and determines the risk of FQ-resistant TB upon FQ treatment before TB diagnosis. A questionnaire was developed to map existing national LRTI and community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) guidelines. A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to determine the risk of FQ-resistant TB if prescribed FQs prior to TB diagnosis. 15 (80%) out of 24 responding European Respiratory Society national delegates reported having national LRTI management guidelines, seven including recommendations on FQ use and one recommending FQs as the first-choice drug. 18 out of 24 countries had national CAP management guidelines, two recommending FQ as the drug of choice. Six studies investigating FQ exposure and the risk of FQ-resistant TB were analysed. TB patients had a three-fold higher risk of having FQ-resistant TB when prescribed FQs before TB diagnosis, compared to non FQ-exposed patients (OR 2.81, 95% CI 1.47-5.39). Although the majority of European countries hold national LRTI/CAP guidelines, our results suggest that a risk of developing FQ resistance exists. Further strengthening of, and adherence to, guidelines is needed to ensure rational use of FQs.

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