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Can J Infect Dis. 2001 Jul;12(4):218-31.

Macrolides: A Canadian Infectious Disease Society position paper.

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Department of Pharmacy Services, Kingston General Hospital, Kingston, Ontario;


Since the introduction of erythromycin in 1965, no new compounds from the macrolide antimicrobial class were licensed in Canada until the 1990s. Clarithromycin and azithromycin, since their introduction, have become important agents for treating a number of common and uncommon infectious diseases. They have become prime agents in the treatment of respiratory tract infections, and have revolutionized the management of both genital chlamydial infections, by the use of single-dose therapy with azithromycin, and nontuberculous mycobacterial infections, by the use of clarithromycin. The improvement of clarithromycin and azithromycin over the gastrointestinal intolerability of erythromycin has led to supplanting the use of the latter for many primary care physicians. Unfortunately, the use of these agents has also increased the likelihood for misuse and has raised concerns about a resultant increase in the rates of macrolide resistance in many important pathogens, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae. This paper reviews the pharmacology and evidence for the current indications for use of these newer agents, and provides recommendations for appropriate use.


Azithromycin; Clarithromycin; Erythromycin; Macrolides; Review; Therapeutic use

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