Interactions

Active ingredient Azithromycin interacts in the following cases:

Liver dysfunction

Since the liver is the principal route of elimination for azithromycin, the use of azithromycin should be undertaken with caution in patients with significant hepatic disease. Cases of fulminant hepatitis potentially leading to life-threatening liver failure have been reported with azithromycin. Some patients may have had pre-existing hepatic disease or may have been taking other hepatotoxic medicinal products.

In case of signs and symptoms of liver dysfunction, such as rapid developing asthenia associated with jaundice, dark urine, bleeding tendency or hepatic encephalopathy, liver function tests/investigations should be performed immediately. Azithromycin administration should be stopped if liver dysfunction has emerged.

Renal impairment (GFR <10 ml/min)

Caution should be exercised when azithromycin is administered to patients with severe renal impairment (GFR <10 ml/min).

Antacids

In a pharmacokinetic study investigating the effects of simultaneous administration of antacid with azithromycin, no effect on overall bioavailability was seen, although peak serum concentrations were reduced by approximately 25%. In patients receiving both azithromycin and antacids, the drugs should not be taken simultaneously.

Ergot derivatives

In patients receiving ergot derivatives, ergotism has been precipitated by co-administration of some macrolide antibiotics. There are no data concerning the possibility of an interaction between ergot and azithromycin. However, because of the theoretical possibility of ergotism, azithromycin and ergot derivatives should not be co-administrated.

Lactation

There are no data on secretion in breast milk. As many drugs are excreted in human milk, azithromycin should not be used in the treatment of a lactating woman unless the physician feels that the potential benefits justify the potential risks to the infant.

Pregnancy

Animal reproduction studies have been performed at doses up to moderately maternally toxic dose concentrations. In these studies, no evidence of harm to the foetus due to azithromycin was found. There are, however, no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, azithromycin should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.

Ciclosporin

In a pharmacokinetic study with healthy volunteers who were administered a 500 mg/day oral dose of azithromycin for 3 days and were then administered a single 10 mg/kg oral dose of ciclosporin, the resulting ciclosporin Cmax and AUC0-5 were found to be significantly elevated (by 24% and 21% respectively), however no significant changes were seen in AUC0-∞. Consequently, caution should be exercised before considering concurrent administration of these drugs. If co-administration of these drugs is necessary, ciclosporin levels should be monitored and the dose adjusted accordingly.

Digoxin, colchicine

Concomitant administration of macrolide antibiotics, including azithromycin, with Pglycoprotein substrates such as digoxin and colchicine, has been reported to result in increased serum levels of the Pglycoprotein substrate. Therefore, if azithromycin and P-glycoprotein substrates such as digoxin are administered concomitantly, the possibility of elevated serum digoxin concentrations should be considered. Clinical monitoring, and possibly serum digoxin levels, during treatment with azithromycin and after its discontinuation are necessary.

Nelfinavir

Co-administration of azithromycin (1200 mg) and nelfinavir at steady state (750 mg three times daily) resulted in increased azithromycin concentrations. No clinically significant adverse effects were observed and no dose adjustment was required.

Rifabutin

Co-administration of azithromycin and rifabutin did not affect the serum concentrations of either drug. Neutropenia was observed in subjects receiving concomitant treatment of azithromycin and rifabutin. Although neutropenia has been associated with the use of rifabutin, a causal relationship to combination with azithromycin has not been established.

Theophylline

There is no evidence of a clinically significant pharmacokinetic interaction when azithromycin and theophylline are co-administered to healthy volunteers.

Warfarin

In a pharmacokinetic interaction study, azithromycin did not alter the anticoagulant effect of a single 15 mg dose of warfarin administered to healthy volunteers. There have been reports received in the post-marketing period of potentiated anticoagulation subsequent to co-administration of azithromycin and coumarin-type oral anticoagulants. Although a causal relationship has not been established, consideration should be given to the frequency of monitoring prothrombin time when azithromycin is used in patients receiving coumarin-type oral anticoagulants.

Zidovudine

Single 1000 mg doses and multiple 1200 mg or 600 mg doses of azithromycin had little effect on the plasma pharmacokinetics or urinary excretion of zidovudine or its glucuronide metabolite. However, administration of azithromycin increased the concentrations of phosphorylated zidovudine, the clinically active metabolite, in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The clinical significance of this finding is unclear, but it may be of benefit to patients.

QT prolongation, drugs prolonging QT interval, bradycardia, severe cardiac insufficiency, hypokalaemia, hypomagnesemia

Prolonged cardiac repolarisation and QT interval, imparting a risk of developing cardiac arrhythmia and torsades de pointes, have been seen in treatment with other macrolides. A similar effect with azithromycin cannot be completely ruled out in patients at increased risk for prolonged cardiac repolarisation; therefore caution is required when treating patients:

  • With congenital or documented QT prolongation
  • Currently receiving treatment with other active substance known to prolong QT interval such as antiarrhythmics of Classes Ia and III, cisapride and terfenadine
  • With electrolyte disturbance, particularly in case of hypokalaemia and hypomagnesemia
  • With clinically relevant bradycardia, cardiac arrhythmia or severe cardiac insufficiency.

Fertility

n animal studies for embryotoxic effects of the substance, no teratogenic effect was observed in mice and rats. In rats, azithromycin doses of 100 and 200 mg/kg bodyweight/day led to mild retardation of foetal ossification and in maternal weight gain. In peri- and postnatal studies in rats, mild retardation following treatment with 50 mg/kg/day azithromycin and above was observed.

Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea (CDAD)

Clostridium difficile associated diarrhoea (CDAD) has been reported with the use of nearly all antibacterial agents, including azithromycin, and may range in severity from mild diarrhoea to fatal colitis. Strains of C. difficile producing hypertoxin A and B contribute to the development of CDAD. Hypertoxin producing strains of C. difficile cause increased morbidity and mortality, as these infections can be refractory to antimicrobial therapy and may require colectomy.

Therefore, CDAD must be considered in patients who present with diarrhoea during or subsequent to the administration of any antibiotics. Careful medical history is necessary since CDAD has been reported to occur over 2 months after the administration of antibacterial agents. Discontinuation of therapy with azithromycin and the administration of specific treatment for C. difficile should be considered.

Myasthenia gravis

Exacerbations of the symptoms of myasthenia gravis and new onset of myasthenia syndrome have been reported in patients receiving azithromycin therapy.

Pregnancy

There are no adequate data from the use of azithromycin in pregnant women. In reproduction toxicity studies in animals, azithromycin was shown to pass the placenta, but no teratogenic effects were observed. The safety of azithromycin has not been confirmed with regard to the use of the active substance during pregnancy. Therefore, azithromycin should only be used during pregnancy if definitely indicated.

Nursing Mothers

Azithromycin passes into breast milk. Because it is not known whether azithromycin may have adverse effects on the breast-fed infant, nursing should be discontinued during treatment with azithromycin. Among other things diarrhoea, fungus infection of the mucous membrane as well as sensitisation is possible in the nursed infant. It is recommended to discard the milk during treatment and up until 2 days after discontinuation of treatment. Nursing may be resumed thereafter.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis and Fertility

Fertility

Animal data do not suggest an effect of the treatment of azithromycin on male and female fertility. Human data are lacking.

Effects on Ability to Drive and Use Machines

There is no evidence to suggest that azithromycin may have an effect on a patient’s ability to drive or operate machinery.