Lack of bioequivalence of ciprofloxacin when administered with calcium-fortified orange juice: a new twist on an old interaction

J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Apr;42(4):461-6.


Fluoroquinolones are known to interact with drugs containing multivalent ions. Current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling states that ciprofloxacin and most other fluoroquinolones are safe to be given with food and dietary calcium but not calcium supplements. Although many of the currently marketed calcium fortified foods have calcium contents that usually exceed those in dietary calcium sources, it is unclear whether they represent a risk for less than optimal absorption of fluoroquinolones, which may result in subsequent clinical failures due to lack of bacterial eradication and antibiotic resistance. The purpose of this three-way, randomized, crossover study was to characterize and compare the bioequivalence of single doses of oral ciprofloxacin in 15 healthy volunteers when administered with water, concurrently with orange juice, and concurrently with calcium-fortified orange juice. Compared to the control arm, the Cmax of ciprofloxacin significantly decreased when it was given with orange juice (23%, p = 0.001) and with calcium-fortified orange juice (41%, p < 0.001). Twenty-four-hour ciprofloxacin AUCs were also decreased for both forms of the orange juice (22% [p < 0.001] and 38% [p < 0.001], respectively). When compared to each other, neither of the orange juice regimens were bioequivalent to each other, with the Cmax and AUC for the fortified form being 22% (p = 0.005) and 21% (p = 0.015) lower than those of the nonfortified form. By FDA standards, although ciprofloxacin is marginally bioequivalent when administered with orange juice, it is not when it is administered with calcium-fortified orange juice. The changes in Cmax and AUC have the potential to significantly decrease clinical efficacy and promote antibiotic resistance. Not warning patients about potential food-drug interactions with fortified foods may be a major unrealized and unstudied inadvertent source of clinical failures and resistance trends with fluoroquinolones.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anti-Infective Agents / blood
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Area Under Curve
  • Beverages*
  • Calcium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Ciprofloxacin / blood*
  • Ciprofloxacin / pharmacokinetics
  • Citrus / metabolism*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified* / adverse effects
  • Food-Drug Interactions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Therapeutic Equivalency


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Calcium