Z-Packs May Have Potential Health Risks

By Daniela Salvador

May 17, 2012 Updated May 22, 2012 at 11:58 AM EDT

Fort Wayne (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - A new study says Z-Packs that treat common infections could have dangerous side effects.

The popular antibiotic is used to treat bronchitis and other common bacterial infections in a few days. However, a new study has found that Azithromycinalso known as Zithromax or Z-Pack can increase the chance of sudden death in people who are at risk of heart disease.

“The study from Vanderbilt University looked at over a half million Medicaid patients in Tennessee from 1992 to 2006,” a Cleveland Clinic doctor said.

Researchers found that patients on Azithromycin who were prone to heart problems were two and a half times more likely to die from cardiovascular causes while taking the medication than patients on another antibiotic, Amoxicillin.

The lead author of the study said he believes doctors prescribe the Zithromax over Amoxicillin because of its easier regimen. Patients can finish their prescription in just a few days, which makes them more likely to finish the entire course of medicine.

Last year doctors wrote 55.3 million prescriptions for Zithromax. It's one of the top selling antibiotics in the nation, the sales of last year totaled $464 million.

Some doctors urged caution over this new study and said patients taking the Zithromax should not panic. Azithromycin is marketed by Pfizer. The drug company said in a statement it will review the new study and patient safety is of the most important factor.

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