Treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with twice daily with the macrolide antibiotic erythromycin can reduce exacerbations that are a major cause of hospital admissions, a study has shown.
Patients with COPD are prone to frequent exacerbations, which are a major cause of hospital admission, mortality, primary care visits and impaired health status, authors noted.
Study recruited from London hospitals
In the 12-month UK study, 109 hospital outpatients from the London Free Hospital and the London Chest Hospital were randomised to receive either a therapy of 250mg twice-daily dosage of erythromycin or placebo.
There were a total of 206 moderate to severe COPD exacerbations and 125 occurred within the placebo arm.
The rate ratio for exacerbations in the macrolide-treated patients compared with placebo-treated patients was 0.648.
Antibiotic therapy effective
Authors wrote: ‘The results show a significant effect of low-dose macrolide therapy, reducing exacerbation frequency and severity in patients with moderate to severe COPD.
‘We have found that erythromycin use was associated with a 35% fall in the rate ratio of moderate to severe exacerbations compared with the placebo arm patients.
‘Macrolides have a role in COPD and may be used to augment therapy in patients with moderate to severe COPD.’