Zithromax and Heart Risks - Consumer Justice Foundation

Zithromax and Heart Risks

Written by Faith Anderson on May 21, 2012
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Zithromax and Potentially Fatal Side Effects

Zithromax, (azithromycin) is a type of antibiotic manufactured by Pfizer, Inc. that is commonly prescribed to treat respiratory system and urinary tract infections, tonsillitis, and other bacterial infections. The medication was originally approved by the FDA in 1991, and generated sales of more than $450 million for Pfizer in 2011 alone. Zithromax belongs to a class of antibacterial medications called macrolides, which have been known to cause issues with abnormal heart rhythms, including QT interval prolongation. This potential side effect can lead to a fatal heart condition known as torsades de pointes. Zithromax was the only macrolide tested in the NEJM study.

The NJEM study was conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University and concluded that patients taking Pfizer, Inc.’s Zithromax were 2.5 times more likely to die from heart-related problems than those taking amoxicillin. Researchers looked at records involving more than 347,000 patients who took Zithromax or a generic equivalent, 1.3 million who took amoxicillin, 264,000 who took Cipro, 264,000 who took Levaquin, and 1.4 million who took no antibiotics. After completing the study, researchers suggested that doctors should prescribe other antibiotics besides Zithromax for patients who are already known to have heart problems, especially problems that affect their heart’s rhythm.

Zithromax Lawsuits for Heart Side Effects

According to this revealing study, there are 47 more deaths for every million people who took Zithromax over amoxicillin, but that number increases to more than 245 deaths among those at risk for heart problems. The Zithromax drug label already includes a warning about heart rhythm abnormalities, which was added after the FDA investigated all macrolides in 2011 due to the problem. The FDA has suggested that patients prescribed a Z-Pak should not stop taking the drug without first speaking to their physician. The agency also advised that physicians be aware of the potential for QT prolongation and heart arrythmias when prescribing Zithromax or other macrolides. As a result of Pfizer’s alleged failure to adequately warn consumers about the heart risks associated with their drug, Zithromax attorneys across the country are evaluating whether patients may be entitled to financial compensation through a Zithromax lawsuit.

Posted Under: FDA - Food and Drug Administration
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