Azithromycin. A review of its pharmacological properties and use as 3-day therapy in respiratory tract infections.Drugs. 1996 Mar; 51(3):483-505.D
The azalide antibacterial agent azithromycin is a semisynthetic acid-stable erythromycin derivative with an expanded spectrum of activity and improved tissue pharmacokinetic characteristics relative to erythromycin. The drug is noted for its activity against some Gram-negative organisms associated with respiratory tract infections, particularly Haemophilus influenzae. Azithromycin has similar activity to other macrolides against Streptococcus pneumoniae and Moraxella catarrhalis, and is active against atypical pathogens such as Legionella pneumophila, Chlamydia pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Once-daily administration of azithromycin is made possible by the long elimination half-life of the drug from tissue. Azithromycin is rapidly and highly concentrated in a number of cell types after absorption, including leucocytes, monocytes and macrophages. It undergoes extensive distribution into tissue, from where it is subsequently eliminated slowly. A 3-day oral regimen of once-daily azithromycin has been shown to be as effective as 5- to 10-day courses of other more frequently administered antibacterial agents [such as erythromycin, amoxicillin-clavulanic acid and phenoxymethylpenicillin (penicillin V)] in patients with acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis and otitis media. Adverse effects of azithromycin are mainly gastrointestinal in nature and occur less frequently than with erythromycin. Azithromycin is likely to prove most useful as a 3-day regimen in the empirical management of respiratory tract infections in the community. Its ease of administration and 3-day duration of therapy, together with its good gastrointestinal tolerability, should optimise patient compliance (the highest level of which is achieved with once-daily regimens). Azithromycin is also likely to be useful in the hospital setting, particularly for outpatients and for those unable to tolerate erythromycin.