Azithromycin. A review of its use in paediatric infectious diseases

Drugs. 1998 Aug;56(2):273-97. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199856020-00014.


Azithromycin is an azalide antimicrobial agent active in vitro against major pathogens responsible for infections of the respiratory tract, skin and soft tissues in children. Pathogens that are generally susceptible to azithromycin include Haemophilus influenzae (including ampicillin-resistant strains), Moraxella catarrhalis, Chlamydia pneumoniae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Legionella spp., Streptococcus pyogenes and Streptococcus agalactiae. Azithromycin is also generally active against erythromycin- and penicillin-susceptible Streptococcus pneumoniae and methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus. Azithromycin is administered once daily, achieves clinically relevant concentrations at sites of infection, is slowly eliminated from the body and has few drug interactions. In children, azithromycin is usually given as either a 3-day course of 10 mg/kg/day or a 5-day course with 10 mg/kg on the first day, followed by 5 mg/kg/day for a further 4 days. These standard regimens were as effective as amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, clarithromycin, cefaclor and amoxicillin in the treatment of children with otitis media. Azithromycin was also as effective as either phenoxymethylpenicillin (penicillin V), erythromycin, clarithromycin or cefaclor against streptococcal pharyngitis or tonsillitis in children, but appears to result in more recurrence of infection than phenoxymethylpenicillin in this indication, necessitating a dosage of 12 mg/kg/day for 5 days. Community-acquired pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory tract infections in children responded as well to azithromycin as to amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, cefaclor, erythromycin or josamycin. Azithromycin was similar or superior to ceftibuten in mixed general practice populations of patients. However, symptoms of lower respiratory tract infections resolved more rapidly with azithromycin than with erythromycin, josamycin or cefaclor. Skin and soft tissue infections responded as well to azithromycin as to cefaclor, dicloxacillin or flucloxacillin, and oral azithromycin was as effective as ocular tetracycline in treating trachoma. Although not as well tolerated as phenoxymethylpenicillin in the treatment of streptococcal pharyngitis, azithromycin is at least as well tolerated as most other agents used to treat respiratory tract and other infections in children and was better tolerated than amoxicillin/clavulanic acid. Adverse events that do occur are mostly gastrointestinal and tend to be mild to moderate in severity.

Conclusions: Azithromycin is an effective and well tolerated alternative to first-line agents in the treatment of respiratory tract, skin and soft tissue infections in children, offerring the convenience of a short, once-daily regimen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Azithromycin / adverse effects
  • Azithromycin / pharmacokinetics
  • Azithromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Otitis Media / drug therapy
  • Pharyngitis / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Streptococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Tonsillitis / drug therapy


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Azithromycin