Zithromax, widely known as a Z-Pak, is a powerful antibiotic manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The active ingredient in Zithromax is azithromycin. It is designed to travel deep into the body’s infected tissue and release slowly over time. In some cases, Zithromax can be taken for as little as one day, as opposed to other antibiotics which require a week or longer.
In 2001, Zithromax received FDA approval as a single-dose or three-day treatment for acute otitis media in children. Acute otitis media is infection and inflammation of the middle ear, just behind the patient’s eardrum. While Zithromax has provided adult and pediatric patients with fast infection relief, it has also caused serious side effects. The FDA issued a warning explaining the increased risk of fatal heart conditions from Zithromax use.
What Is Zithromax?
Azithromycin belongs to a medication class called macrolide antibiotics. Azithromycin is designed to stop bacterial growth within the body. It can be used to treat several bacterial infections, but not the flu, colds, or other viral infections.
Zithromax comes in tablet and liquid forms and can be used to treat several types of infections in adults and certain infections in children. The drug is FDA-approved to treat pediatric ear infections, pneumonia, and throat infections such as strep throat.
Zithromax can be used to treat adult conditions such as:
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Skin infections
- Gastrointestinal infections such as traveler’s diarrhea
- Throat infections such as strep throat and tonsillitis
- Lung infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis
- Sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea
Zithromax Side Effects
Side effects from using Zithromax and other azithromycin drugs range from mild to life-threatening. Among the most common side effects, users have experienced diarrhea, nervousness, nausea, vomiting, and heartburn. Patients have also reported anaphylactic reactions to the drug, including itchiness, rash, low blood pressure, and swelling in the mouth, neck, and face. Patients who suspect an allergic reaction should seek immediate medical attention.
Zithromax users should seek immediate medical attention at the onset of the following side effects:
- Bleeding gums
- Flu-like symptoms
- Severe diarrhea
- Black, tarry, or bloody stool
- Dark-colored urine
- Blurred vision
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Peeling, loosening, or blistering of the skin
- Unusual weight changes
- Changes in hearing
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Irregular or decreased heart rate
Zithromax FDA Warning
In March 2013, the FDA issued a warning for Zithromax. The warning alerted consumers that Zithromax patients who are at risk for heart problems have an increased risk of arrhythmia, or irregular heart rhythm. At-risk patients include those who have low potassium or magnesium. Patients who have abnormally slow rates or take arrhythmia drugs are also at-risk for heart problems.
FDA warnings were prompted by a study that was featured in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study revealed that Zithromax users faced an increased risk of mortality within five days of beginning treatment. Vanderbilt University researchers discovered that death from cardiovascular complications was 2.5 times more likely in Zithromax users as compared to amoxicillin users.
Patients who have been injured from Zithromax may be eligible to file a lawsuit against Pfizer. Zithromax victims may be entitled to financial compensation to cover the costs of medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. In the case of a death from Zithromax, family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim to receive compensation for their loss.
Zithromax patients or family members who wish to file a claim against Pfizer should seek a knowledgeable and experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can help to discuss legal options and pursue the best course of action for each individual case.