FDA is advising caution before prescribing the antibiotic clarithromycin (Biaxin) to patients with heart disease because of a potential increased risk of heart problems or death that can occur years later. Clarithromycin is used to treat many types of infections affecting the skin, ears, sinuses, lungs, and other parts of the body, including Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection, a type of lung infection that often affects people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Clarithromycin is not approved to treat heart disease.
As a result, FDA added a new warning about this increased risk of death in patients with heart disease, and advised prescribers to consider using other antibiotics in such patients. FDA also added the study results to the clarithromycin drug labels. As part of FDA’s usual ongoing safety monitoring of drugs, we are continuing to monitor safety reports in patients taking clarithromycin. FDAs recommendation is based on a review of the results of a 10-year follow-up study of patients with coronary heart disease from a large clinical trial that first observed this safety issue.
Please read the entire FDA MedWatch Alert for recommendations for healthcare providers and patients.
[02/22/2018 - MedWatch Alert - FDA]