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Drugs. 1997 Mar;53(3):349-57.

Choosing the right macrolide antibiotic. A guide to selection.

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Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Macrolide antibiotics have proven to be valuable alternatives to penicillins and cephalosporins for the treatment of a number of infections. Currently, a number of macrolides are available. When choosing a particular macrolide, the types of organisms causing the infection, the tolerability of the drug, convenience of dosing and possible drug interactions all must be taken into account. Erythromycin, azithromycin and clarithromycin are equally effective against most gram-positive organisms. However, clarithromycin and azithromycin have much better activity against Haemophilus influenza and Moraxella catarrhalis. Thus, these 2 drugs are better choices for the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia. However, the low serum concentrations of azithromycin may be a problem in patients with bacteraemia associated with with community-acquired pneumonia. Clarithromycin appears to be effective for the treatment and prophylaxis of Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) in patients with AIDS, while azithromycin appears to be effective for prophylaxis. Treatment of MAC with azithromycin is currently undergoing study. Although clarithromycin is the macrolide of choice for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori, azithromycin is the preferred macrolide for the treatment of Chlamydia trachomatis infections. The major factor limiting the use of azithromycin and clarithromycin has been their cost. However, these drugs may be cost effective if compliance is improved due to better tolerability and more convenient dosing regimens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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