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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1996 Nov;40(11):2577-81.

Safety, toleration, and pharmacokinetics of intravenous azithromycin.

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Pfizer Central Research, Pfizer Inc., Groton, Connecticut, USA.


To date, the clinical pharmacology of large intravenous doses of azithromycin has not been described. In the present study, single 2-h intravenous infusions of 1, 2, and 4 g of azithromycin were administered to three parallel groups (in each group, six received active drug and two received placebo) of healthy male subjects. Toleration (assessed by scores of subject-administered visual analog scale tests spanning 0 [good] to 10 [poor]), safety, pharmacokinetics, and serum motilin levels were monitored for up to 240 h after the start of each intravenous infusion. Mean nausea scores of 0.0, 0.0, 1.0, and 0.5 and abdominal cramping scores of 0.0, 0.0, 0.4, and 0.4 for 12-h periods after doses of 0, 1, 2, and 4 g of azithromycin, respectively, suggested that azithromycin was well tolerated. Because of the standardized 1-mg/ml infusates, all subjects in the 4-g dosing group complained of an urgent need to urinate. There were no consistent trends in endogenous motilin levels throughout the study. The maximum concentration of azithromycin in serum (10 micrograms/ml after a 4-g dose) and the area under the concentration-time curve (82 micrograms.h/ml after a 4-g dose) were dose related. The mean pharmacokinetic parameters were an elimination half-life of 69 h, total systemic clearance of 10 ml/min/kg, and a volume of distribution at steady state of 33.3 liters/kg. The pharmacokinetic results suggest that the long half-life of azithromycin is due to extensive uptake and slow release of the drug from tissues rather than an inability to clear the drug. Single intravenous doses of up to 4 g of azithromycin in healthy subjects are generally well tolerated, and quantifiable concentrations may persist in serum for 10 days or more.

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