Azithromycin and clarithromycin

Med Clin North Am. 1995 Jul;79(4):803-15. doi: 10.1016/s0025-7125(16)30040-2.


Azithromycin and clarithromycin are alternatives to conventional macrolides in the routine treatment of many dermatologic, upper respiratory, and lower respiratory tract infections. In this role as alternative therapy, they are better tolerated, less toxic, and more convenient to take, although at a greater cost to the patient. This dosing convenience is an important consideration for the clinician; as shown by Nelson, patient compliance ranges from 95% with once-daily dosing to 58% with four-times-a-day dosing. Thus, less frequent dosing with both drugs as well as the shorter course of therapy possible with azithromycin may be therapeutically advantageous. In addition to their role as alternatives to conventional macrolide therapy, azithromycin and clarithromycin extend the spectrum of macrolides and offer new therapeutic options for H. influenzae, MAC in AIDS, MOTT, and leprosy. Finally, experimental therapy may extend their use for additional opportunistic infections, such as toxoplasmosis and cryptosporidiosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Azithromycin / adverse effects
  • Azithromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Clarithromycin / adverse effects
  • Clarithromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests


  • Azithromycin
  • Clarithromycin