Published: 19 June 2019

Authors: Dave P. Nichols, Katherine Odem-Davis, Jonathan D. Cogen, Christopher H. Goss, Clement L. Ren, Michelle Skalland, Ranjani Somayaji, and Sonya L. Heltshe

Source: This abstract has been sourced from NZ Respiratory Research Review Issue 179

    Rationale: Chronic azithromycin is commonly used in cystic fibrosis based on short controlled clinical trials showing reductions in pulmonary exacerbations and improved FEV1. Long-term effects are unknown.

    Objectives: Examine pulmonary outcomes among chronic azithromycin users compared with matched controls over years of use and consider combined azithromycin use in cohorts using chronic inhaled tobramycin or aztreonam.

    Methods: This retrospective cohort study used the U.S. cystic fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry. Incident chronic azithromycin users were compared with matched controls by FEV1% predicted rate of decline and rates of intravenous antibiotic use to treat pulmonary exacerbations. Propensity score methods were utilized to address confounding by indication. Predefined sensitivity analyses based on lung function, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) status, and follow-up time intervals were conducted.

    Measurements and Main Results: Across 3 years, FEV1% predicted per-year decline was nearly 40% less in those with PA using azithromycin compared with matched controls (slopes, −1.53 versus −2.41% predicted per yr; difference: 0.88; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.30–1.47). This rate of decline did not differ based on azithromycin use in those without PA. Among all cohorts, use of intravenous antibiotics was no different between azithromycin users and controls. Users of inhaled tobramycin and azithromycin had FEV1% predicted per-year decline of −0.16 versus nonusers (95% CI, −0.44 to 0.13), whereas users of inhaled aztreonam lysine and azithromycin experienced a mean 0.49% predicted per year slower decline than matched controls (95% CI, −0.11 to 1.10).

    Conclusions: Results from this study provide additional rationale for chronic azithromycin use in PA-positive patients to reduce lung function decline.

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