Published: 15 September 2020

Authors: Haridarshan Patel, PharmD, PhD; Gregory S. Calip, PharmD, MPH, PhD; Robert J. DiDomenico, PharmD; Glen T. Schumock, PharmD, MBA, PhD; Katie J. Suda, PharmD, MS; Todd A. Lee, PharmD, PhD

Source: This abstract has been sourced from NZ Respiratory Research Review Issue 184


    Importance  Conflicting evidence exists on the association between azithromycin use and cardiac events.

    Objective  To compare the odds of cardiac events among new users of azithromycin relative to new users of amoxicillin using real-world data.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  This retrospective cohort study used data from Truven Health Analytics MarketScan database from January 1, 2009, to June 30, 2015. Patients receiving either amoxicillin or azithromycin and enrolled in a health care plan 365 days before (baseline period) the dispensing date (index date) were included in the study. Patients were matched 1:1 on high-dimensional propensity scores. Data were analyzed from October 1, 2018, to December 31, 2019.

    Exposures  New use of azithromycin compared with new use of amoxicillin.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome consisted of cardiac events, including syncope, palpitations, ventricular arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, or death as a primary diagnosis for hospitalization at 5, 10, and 30 days from the index date. Logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CIs.

    Results  After matching, the final cohort included 2 141 285 episodes of each index therapy (N = 4 282 570) (mean [SD] age of patients, 35.7 [22.3] years; 52.6% female). Within 5 days after therapy initiation, 1474 cardiac events (0.03%) occurred (708 in the amoxicillin cohort and 766 in the azithromycin cohort). The 2 most frequent events were syncope (1032 [70.0%]) and palpitations (331 [22.5%]). The odds of cardiac events with azithromycin compared with amoxicillin were not significantly higher at 5 days (OR, 1.08; 95% CI, 0.98-1.20), 10 days (OR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.97-1.15), and 30 days (OR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.92-1.04). Among patients receiving any concurrent QT-prolonging drug, the odds of cardiac events with azithromycin were 1.40 (95% CI, 1.04-1.87) greater compared with amoxicillin. Among patients 65 years or older and those with a history of cardiovascular disease and other risk factors, no increased risk of cardiac events with azithromycin was noted.

    Conclusions and Relevance  This study found no association of cardiac events with azithromycin compared with amoxicillin except among patients using other QT-prolonging drugs concurrently. Although azithromycin is a safe therapy, clinicians should carefully consider its use among patients concurrently using other QT-prolonging drugs.

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