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Zithromax/Zmax/Zpac Heart Problems

The FDA warned yesterday that the antibiotic Zithromax (or “Zmax” or “Zpac”) can cause abnormal heart rhythms that may potentially be fatal.

Zmax (azithromycin) is a macrolide antibiotic made by Pfizer that fights bacteria in the body. I used it effectively. Specifically, this antibiotic treats chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, strep throat, acute bacterial sinusitis, community-acquired pneumonia, pharyngitis/tonsillitis, urethra or cervix swelling, and genital ulcers. Many of us have used it effectively at some point in our lives. I’ve used it recently for strep throat. Works great.

But the FDA says through a safety communication that the research shows that patients at enhanced risk from Zitromax side effects include patients with existing QT interval prolongation, low levels of potassium or magnesium, slow heart rate, or people on medication to treat abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias.

The FDA said it issued the drug safety communication after reviewing a study by medical researchers and a study by a manufacturer that assessed the potential for azithromycin to cause abnormal changes in the heart’s electrical activity.

There is no talk of recalling the drug and many patients will continue to be prescribed the drug. But the FDA says doctors should consider these new concerns when prescribing the azithromycin.