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Shapiro & Appleton

FDA Announces Possible Problems With Popular Antibiotic

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What Happened:

A worrying press release by the Food and Drug Administration revealed that a very popular antibiotic could cause unusual and even fatal heart arrhythmias in some patients.

The FDA statement said that the drug, azithromycin, sold under names Zithromax or Zmax, and commonly sold in what’s known as a Z-Pak, is used to treat common bacterial infections. The popular drug has been found to cause changes in the electrical activity of a patients’ heart.

The FDA began its investigation not because of complaints, but after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine by doctors at Vanderbilt University indicated trouble with the antibiotic. The study found that among thousands of Tennessee Medicaid patients there was a 2.5 times higher risk of death from heart disease in the first five days after using a Z-Pak when compared to those patients who used either another antibiotic or no antibiotics at all.

Researchers say those patients with preexisting heart problems may be especially vulnerable to the problems caused by azithromycin. The FDA said that those patients with especially low levels of potassium or magnesium are at heightened risk of complication as well as those who have slower than normal heart rates.

The Virginia Injury Attorney’s Perspective:

Though the recent trouble does not mean that everyone should immediately stop taking azithromycin, it does mean that patients should be cautious and take care to talk about possible problems with their doctors. The FDA said that patients should ask their doctors about the seriousness of their infection and whether a powerful antibiotic like azithromycin is even needed or if other antibiotics might work just as well.

One issue is that many doctors reflexively prescribe Z-Paks because the drugs only need to be taken for five days rather than the typical 10-day period for other antibiotics. Convenience alone should not be a reason for continuing use of a potentially dangerous drug if your doctor believes there could be complications.

Potentially Helpful Info:

Attorneys with our Virginia personal injury law firm have helped many victims of dangerous and defective drugs recover damages from companies whose negligence or disregard for consumer safety led to injuries.

If you or a family member has been injured by a defective or dangerous drug, you can begin to learn about your legal rights and options by reading this article. The report, drafted by our experienced Virginia injury attorneys, provides examples of various kinds of dangerous drug lawsuits, common legal theories used in such cases and an explanation of how dangerous drug cases are investigated.

Have Questions? Check Out Our FAQs

If you’ve been injured due to a dangerous or defective drug, you likely have a lot of questions about how to move forward. Take a look at our firm’s library containing attorneys’ answers to frequently asked questions regarding defective or dangerous drugs.


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