Clarithromycin 250 mg film-coated tablets
Each film-coated tablet contains 250 mg of clarithromycin
For the full list of excipients, see section 6.1.
Light yellow coloured, oval shaped, biconvex film-coated tablets, with 'D' debossed on one side and '62' on the other side. The size is 15.1 mm x 7.1 mm
Consideration should be given to official guidance on the appropriate use of antibacterial agents.
Clarithromycin film-coated tablets are indicated in adults and children 12 years and older.
Clarithromycin is indicated for treatment of infections caused by susceptible organisms. Indications include:
Lower respiratory tract infections for example, acute and chronic bronchitis, and pneumonia (see sections 4.4 and 5.1 regarding Sensitivity Testing).
Upper respiratory tract infections for example, sinusitis and pharyngitis.
Clarithromycin is appropriate for initial therapy in community acquired respiratory infections and has been shown to be active in vitro against common and atypical respiratory pathogens as listed in the microbiology section.
Clarithromycin is also indicated in skin and soft tissue infections of mild to moderate severity (e.g. folliculitis, cellulitis, erysipelas) (see sections 4.4 and 5.1 regarding Sensitivity Testing).
Clarithromycin in the presence of acid suppression effected by omeprazole or lansoprazole is also indicated for the eradication of H. pylori in patients with duodenal ulcers. See Dosage and Administration section.
Clarithromycin is usually active against the following organisms in vitro:
Gram-positive Bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus (methicillin susceptible); Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A beta-haemolytic streptococci); alpha-haemolytic streptococci (viridans group); Streptococcus (Diplococcus) pneumoniae; Streptococcus agalactiae; Listeria monocytogenes.
Gram-negative Bacteria: Haemophilus influenzae; Haemophilus parainfluenzae; Moraxella (Branhamella) catarrhalis; Neisseria gonorrhoeae; Legionella pneumophila; Bordetella pertussis; Helicobacter pylori; Campylobacter jejuni.
Mycoplasma: Mycoplasma pneumoniae; Ureaplasma urealyticum.
Other Organisms: Chlamydia trachomatis; Mycobacterium avium; Mycobacterium leprae.
Anaerobes: Macrolide-susceptible Bacteroides fragilis; Clostridium perfringens; Peptococcus species; Peptostreptococcus species; Propionibacterium acnes.
Clarithromycin has bactericidal activity against several bacterial strains. The organisms include Haemophilus influenzae; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Streptococcus pyogenes; Streptococcus agalactiae; Moraxella (Branhamella) catarrhalis; Neisseria gonorrhoeae; H. pylori and Campylobacter spp.
The activity of clarithromycin against H. pylori is greater at neutral pH than at acid pH.
Patients with respiratory tract/skin and soft tissue infections.
Adults: The usual dose is 250 mg twice daily although this may be increased to 500mg twice daily in severe infections. The usual duration of treatment is 6 to 14 days.
Children older than 12 years: As for adults.
Children younger than 12 years:
Use of Clarithromycin film-coated tablets is not recommended for children younger than 12 years. Clinical trials have been conducted using clarithromycin paediatric suspension in children 6 months to 12 years of age. Therefore, children under 12 years of age should use clarithromycin paediatric suspension.
Clarithromycin may be given without regard to meals as food does not affect the extent of bioavailability.
Eradication of H. pylori in patients with duodenal ulcers (Adults)
The usual duration of treatment is 6 to 14 days.
Clarithromycin (500mg) twice daily and lansoprazole 30mg twice daily should be given with amoxicillin 1000mg twice daily.
Clarithromycin (500mg) twice daily and lansoprazole 30mg twice daily should be given with metronidazole 400mg twice daily.
Clarithromycin (500mg) twice daily and omeprazole 40mg daily should be given with amoxycillin 1000mg twice daily or metronidazole 400mg twice daily.
Clarithromycin (500mg) twice daily and omeprazole 20mg daily should be given with amoxycillin 1000mg twice daily.
Elderly: As for adults.
In patients with renal impairment with creatinine clearance less than 30 mL/min, the dosage of clarithromycin should be reduced by one-half, i.e. 250 mg once daily, or 250 mg twice daily in more severe infections. Treatment should not be continued beyond 14 days in these patients.
Clarithromycin is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to the active substance clarithromycin, to other macrolide antibiotic drugs or to any of the excipients listed in section 6.1.
Concomitant administration of clarithromycin and ergot alkaloids (e.g., ergotamine or dihydroergotamine) is contraindicated, as this may result in ergot toxicity (see sections 4.4 and 4.5).
Concomitant administration of clarithromycin and oral midazolam is contraindicated (see section 4.5).
Concomitant administration of clarithromycin and lomitapide is contraindicated (see section 4.5).
Concomitant administration of clarithromycin and any of the following drugs is contraindicated: astemizole, cisapride, domperidone, ivabradine, pimozide and terfenadine as this may result in QT prolongation and cardiac arrhythmias, including ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation and torsades de pointes (see section 4.5).
Clarithromycin should not be given to patients with history of QT prolongation (congenital or documented acquired QT prolongation) or ventricular cardiac arrhythmia, including torsades de pointe (see sections 4.4 and 4.5).
Concomitant administration with ticagrelor or ranolazine is contraindicated.
Clarithromycin should not be used concomitantly with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) that are extensively metabolised by CYP3A4 (lovastatin or simvastatin), due to the increased risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis (see section 4.5).
As with other strong CYP3A4 inhibitors, Clarithromycin should not be used in patients taking colchicine (see sections 4.4 & 4.5).
Clarithromycin should not be given to patients with electrolyte disturbances (hypokalaemia or hypomagnesaemia, due to the risk of prolongation of the QT interval).
Clarithromycin should not be used in patients who suffer from severe hepatic failure in combination with renal impairment.
Use of any antimicrobial therapy, such as clarithromycin, to treat H. pylori infection may select for drug-resistant organisms.
The physician should not prescribe clarithromycin to pregnant women without carefully weighing the benefits against risk, particularly during the first three months of pregnancy (see section 4.6).
Clarithromycin is principally metabolised by the liver. Therefore, caution should be exercised in administering this antibiotic to patients with impaired hepatic function.
Caution should also be exercised when administering clarithromycin to patients with moderate to severe renal impairment (see section 4.2).
Hepatic dysfunction, including increased liver enzymes, and hepatocellular and/or cholestatic hepatitis, with or without jaundice, has been reported with clarithromycin. This hepatic dysfunction may be severe and is usually reversible. Cases of fatal hepatic failure (see section 4.8) have been reported. Some patients may have had pre-existing hepatic disease or may have been taking other hepatotoxic medicinal products. Patients should be advised to stop treatment and contact their doctor if signs and symptoms of hepatic disease develop, such as anorexia, jaundice, dark urine, pruritus, or tender abdomen.
Pseudomembranous colitis has been reported with nearly all antibacterial agents, including macrolides, and may range in severity from mild to life-threatening. Clostridioides difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) has been reported with use of nearly all antibacterial agents including clarithromycin, and may range in severity from mild diarrhoea to fatal colitis. Treatment with antibacterial agents alters the normal flora of the colon, which may lead to overgrowth of C. difficile. CDAD must be considered in all patients who present with diarrhea following antibiotic use. Careful medical history is necessary since CDAD has been reported to occur over two months after the administration of antibacterial agents. Therefore, discontinuation of clarithromycin therapy should be considered regardless of the indication. Microbial testing should be performed and adequate treatment initiated. Drugs inhibiting peristalsis should be avoided.
There have been post-marketing reports of colchicine toxicity with concomitant use of clarithromycin and colchicine, especially in the elderly, some of which occurred in patients with renal insufficiency. Deaths have been reported in some such patients (see section 4.5). Concomitant administration of clarithromycin and colchicine is contraindicated (see section 4.3).
Caution is advised regarding concomitant administration of clarithromycin and triazolobenzodiazepines, such as triazolam, and intravenous or oromucosal midazolam (see section 4.5).
Prolongation of the QT interval, reflecting effects on cardiac repolarisation imparting a risk of developing cardiac arrhythmia and torsades de pointes, have been seen in treatment with macrolides including clarithromycin (see section 4.8). Due to increased risk of QT prolongation and ventricular arrhythmias (including torsades de pointes), the use of clarithromycin is contraindicated in patients taking any of astemizole, cisapride, domperidone, ivabradine, pimozide and terfenadine; in patients who have electrolyte disturbances such as hypomagnesaemia or hypokalaemia; and in patients with a history of QT prolongation or ventricular cardiac arrhythmia (see section 4.3).
Carefully consider the balance of benefits and risks before prescribing clarithromycin for any patients taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, because of the potential for an increased risk of cardiovascular events and cardiovascular mortality (see section 4.5).
Furthermore, clarithromycin should be used with caution in the following:
• Patients with coronary artery disease, severe cardiac insufficiency, conduction disturbances or clinically relevant bradycardia.
• Patients concomitantly taking other medicinal products associated with QT prolongation other than those which are contraindicated
Epidemiological studies investigating the risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes with macrolides have shown variable results. Some observational studies have identified a rare short-term risk of arrhythmia, myocardial infarction and cardiovascular mortality associated with macrolides including clarithromycin. Consideration of these findings should be balanced with treatment benefits when prescribing clarithromycin.
Pneumonia: In view of the emerging resistance of Streptococcus pneumoniae to macrolides, it is important that sensitivity testing be performed when prescribing clarithromycin for community-acquired pneumonia. In hospital-acquired pneumonia, clarithromycin should be used in combination with additional appropriate antibiotics.
Skin and soft tissue infections of mild to moderate severity: These infections are most often caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, both of which may be resistant to macrolides. Therefore, it is important that sensitivity testing be performed. In cases where beta–lactam antibiotics cannot be used (e.g. allergy), other antibiotics, such as clindamycin, may be the drug of first choice. Currently, macrolides are only considered to play a role in some skin and soft tissue infections, such as those caused by Corynebacterium minutissimum, acne vulgaris, and erysipelas and in situations where penicillin treatment cannot be used.
In the event of severe acute hypersensitivity reactions, such as anaphylaxis, severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCAR) (e.g. Acute generalised exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis and Drug Rash with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS), treatment with clarithromycin therapy should be discontinued immediately and appropriate treatment should be urgently initiated.
Clarithromycin should be used with caution when administered concurrently with medications that induce the cytochrome CYP3A4 enzyme (see section 4.5).
HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors (statins): Concomitant use of clarithromycin with lovastatin or simvastatin is contraindicated (see section 4.3). Caution should be exercised when prescribing clarithromycin with other statins. Rhabdomyolysis has been reported in patients taking clarithromycin and statins. Patients should be monitored for signs and symptoms of myopathy.
In situations where the concomitant use of clarithromycin with statins cannot be avoided, it is recommended to prescribe the lowest registered dose of statin. Use of a statin that is not dependent on CYP3A metabolism (e.g. fluvastatin) can be considered.
Oral hypoglycemic agents/Insulin: The concomitant use of clarithromycin and oral hypoglycaemic agents (such as sulfonylurias) and/or insulin can result in significant hypoglycaemia. Careful monitoring of glucose is recommended (see section 4.5).
Oral anticoagulants: There is a risk of serious haemorrhage and significant elevations in International Normalized Ratio (INR) and prothrombin time when clarithromycin is co-administered with warfarin (see section 4.5). INR and prothrombin times should be frequently monitored while patients are receiving clarithromycin and oral anticoagulants concurrently.
Caution should be exercised when clarithromycin is co-administered with direct acting oral anticoagulants such as dabigatran, rivaroxaban and apixaban, particularly to patients at high risk of bleeding (see section 4.5).
Long-term use may, as with other antibiotics, result in colonisation with increased numbers of non-susceptible bacteria and fungi. If superinfections occur, appropriate therapy should be instituted.
Attention should also be paid to the possibility of cross resistance between clarithromycin and other macrolide drugs, as well as lincomycin and clindamycin.
Information on Sodium content
This medicine contains less than 1 mmol sodium (23 mg) per tablet, that is to say essentially 'sodium-free'.
The use of the following drugs is strictly contraindicated due to the potential for severe drug interaction effects:
Cisapride, pimozide, domperidone, astemizole and terfenadine
Elevated cisapride levels have been reported in patients receiving clarithromycin and cisapride concomitantly. This may result in QT prolongation and cardiac arrhythmias including ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation and torsades de pointes. Similar effects have been observed in patients taking clarithromycin and pimozide concomitantly (see section 4.3).
Macrolides have been reported to alter the metabolism of terfenadine resulting in increased levels of terfenadine which has occasionally been associated with cardiac arrhythmias such as QT prolongation, ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation and torsades de pointes (see section 4.3). In one study in 14 healthy volunteers, the concomitant administration of clarithromycin and terfenadine resulted in a two to three fold increase in the serum level of the acid metabolite of terfenadine and in prolongation of the QT interval which did not lead to any clinically detectable effect. Similar effects have been observed with concomitant administration of astemizole and other macrolides.
Post-marketing reports indicate that co-administration of clarithromycin with ergotamine or dihydroergotamine has been associated with acute ergot toxicity characterized by vasospasm, and ischaemia of the extremities and other tissues including the central nervous system. Concomitant administration of clarithromycin and these ergot alkaloids is contraindicated (see section 4.3).
When midazolam was co-administered together with clarithromycin tablets (500 mg twice per day), the AUC of midazolam increased 7-fold following the administration of oral midazolam. The concomitant administration of clarithromycin and oral midazolam is contraindicated (see section 4.3).
HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors (statins)
Concomitant use of clarithromycin with lovastatin or simvastatin is contraindicated (see 4.3) as these statins are extensively metabolized by CYP3A4 and concomitant treatment with clarithromycin increases their plasma concentration, which increases the risk of myopathy, including rhabdomyolysis. Reports of rhabdomyolysis have been received for patients taking clarithromycin concomitantly with these statins. If treatment with clarithromycin cannot be avoided, therapy with lovastatin or simvastatin must be suspended during the course of treatment.
Caution should be exercised when prescribing clarithromycin with statins. In situations where the concomitant use of clarithromycin with statins cannot be avoided, it is recommended to prescribe the lowest registered dose of the statin. Use of a statin that is not dependent on CYP3A metabolism (e.g. fluvastatin) can be considered. Patients should be monitored for signs and symptoms of myopathy.
Effects of other medicinal products on clarithromycin
Drugs that are inducers of CYP3A (e.g. rifampicin, phenytoin, carabamazepine, phenobarbital, St. John's wort) may induce the metabolism of clarithromycin. This may result in sub-therapeutic levels of clarithromycin leading to a reduced efficacy. Furthermore, it might be necessary to monitor the plasma levels of the CYP3A inducer, which could be increased owing to the inhibition of CYP3A by clarithromycin (see also the relevant product information for the CYP3A4 inducer administered). Concomitant administration of rifabutin and clarithromycin resulted in an increase in rifabutin, and decrease in clarithromycin serum levels together with an increased risk of uveitis.
The following drugs are known or suspected to affect circulating concentrations of clarithromycin; clarithromycin dosage adjustment or consideration of alternative treatments may be required.
Efavirenz, nevirapine, rifampicin, rifabutin and rifapentine
Strong inducers of the cytochrome P450 metabolism system such as efavirenz, nevirapine, rifampicin, rifabutin, and rifapentine may accelerate the metabolism of clarithromycin and thus lower the plasma levels of clarithromycin, while increasing those of 14-OH-clarithromycin, a metabolite that is also microbiologically active. Since the microbiological activities of clarithromycin and 14-OH-clarithromycin are different for different bacteria, the intended therapeutic effect could be impaired during concomitant administration of clarithromycin and enzyme inducers.
Clarithromycin exposure was decreased by etravirine; however, concentrations of the active metabolite, 14-OH-clarithromycin, were increased. Because 14-OH-clarithromycin has reduced activity against Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), overall activity against this pathogen may be altered; therefore alternatives to clarithromycin should be considered for the treatment of MAC.
Concomitant administration of fluconazole 200 mg daily and clarithromycin 500 mg twice daily to 21 healthy volunteers led to increases in the mean steady-state minimum clarithromycin concentration (Cmin) and area under the curve (AUC) of 33% and 18% respectively. Steady state concentrations of the active metabolite 14-OH-clarithromycin were not significantly affected by concomitant administration of fluconazole. No clarithromycin dose adjustment is necessary.
A pharmacokinetic study demonstrated that the concomitant administration of ritonavir 200 mg every eight hours and clarithromycin 500 mg every 12 hours resulted in a marked inhibition of the metabolism of clarithromycin. The clarithromycin Cmax increased by 31%, Cmin increased 182% and AUC increased by 77% with concomitant administration of ritonavir. An essentially complete inhibition of the formation of 14-OH-clarithromycin was noted. Because of the large therapeutic window for clarithromycin, no dosage reduction should be necessary in patients with normal renal function. However, for patients with renal impairment, the following dosage adjustments should be considered: For patients with CLCR 30 to 60 mL/min the dose of clarithromycin should be reduced by 50%. For patients with CLCR <30 mL/min the dose of clarithromycin should be decreased by 75%. Doses of clarithromycin greater than 1 g/day should not be coadministered with ritonavir.
Similar dose adjustments should be considered in patients with reduced renal function when ritonavir is used as a pharmacokinetic enhancer with other HIV protease inhibitors including atazanavir and saquinavir (see section below, Bi-directional drug interactions).
Effect of clarithromycin on other medicinal products
Co-administration of clarithromycin, known to inhibit CYP3A, and a drug primarily metabolised by CYP3A may be associated with elevations in drug concentrations that could increase or prolong both therapeutic and adverse effects of the concomitant drug.
The use of clarithromycin should be used with caution is contraindicated in patients receiving CYP3A substrates, astemizole, cisapride, domperidone, pimozide and terfenadine due to the risk of QT prolongation and cardiac arrhythmias, including ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation and torsades de pointes (see sections 4.3 and 4.4).
The use of clarithromycin is also contraindicated with ergot alkaloids, oral midazolam, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors mainly metabolised by CYP3A4 (e.g. lovastatin and simvastatin), colchicine, ticagrelor and ranolazine (see section 4.3).
Concomitant administration of clarithromycin with lomitapide is contraindicated due to the potential for markedly increased transaminases (see section 4.3).
Caution is required if clarithromycin is co-administered with other drugs known to be CYP3A enzyme substrates, especially if the CYP3A substrate has a narrow safety margin (e.g. carbamazepine) and/or the substrate is extensively metabolised by this enzyme. Dosage adjustments may be considered, and when possible, serum concentrations of drugs primarily metabolised by CYP3A should be monitored closely in patients concurrently receiving clarithromycin. Drugs or drug classes that are known or suspected to be metabolised by the same CYP3A isozyme include (but this list is not comprehensive) alprazolam, carbamazepine, cilostazole, ciclosporin, disopyramide, ibrutinib, methadone, methylprednisolone, midazolam (intravenous), omeprazole, oral anticoagulants (e.g. warfarin, rivaroxaban, apixaban), atypical antipsychotics (e.g. quetiapine), quinidine, rifabutin, sildenafil, sirolimus, tacrolimus, triazolam and vinblastine.
Drugs interacting by similar mechanisms through other isozymes within the cytochrome P450 system include phenytoin, theophylline and valproate.
There have been post-marketing reports of torsades de pointes occurring with concurrent use of clarithromycin and quinidine or disopyramide. Electrocardiograms should be monitored for QT prolongation during co-administration of clarithromycin with these drugs. Serum levels of quinidine and disopyramide should be monitored during clarithromycin therapy.
There have been post marketing reports of hypoglycemia with the concomitant administration of clarithromycin and disopyramide. Therefore blood glucose levels should be monitored during concomitant administration of clarithromycin and disopyramide.
Oral hypoglycemic agents/Insulin
With certain hypoglycemic drugs such as nateglinide, and repaglinide, inhibition of CYP3A enzyme by clarithromycin may be involved and could cause hypoglycaemia when used concomitantly. Careful monitoring of glucose is recommended.
Clarithromycin (500 mg every 8 hours) was given in combination with omeprazole (40 mg daily) to healthy adult subjects. The steady-state plasma concentrations of omeprazole were increased (Cmax, AUC0-24, and t1/2 increased by 30%, 89%, and 34%, respectively), by the concomitant administration of clarithromycin. The mean 24-hour gastric pH value was 5.2 when omeprazole was administered alone and 5.7 when omeprazole was co-administered with clarithromycin.
Direct acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs)
The DOAC dabigatran is a substrate for the efflux transporter P-gp. Rivaroxaban and apixaban are metabolised via CYP3A4 and are also substrates for P-gp. Caution should be exercised when clarithromycin is co-administered with these agents particularly to patients at high risk of bleeding (see section 4.4).
Sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil
Each of these phosphodiesterase inhibitors is metabolised, at least in part, by CYP3A, and CYP3A may be inhibited by concomitantly administered clarithromycin. Co-administration of clarithromycin with sildenafil, tadalafil or vardenafil would likely result in increased phosphodiesterase inhibitor exposure. Reduction of sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil dosages should be considered when these drugs are co-administered with clarithromycin.
Results of clinical studies indicate that there was a modest but statistically significant (p≤ 0.05) increase of circulating theophylline or carbamazepine levels when either of these drugs were administered concomitantly with clarithromycin. Dose reduction may need to be considered.
The primary route of metabolism for tolterodine is via the 2D6 isoform of cytochrome P450 (CYP2D6). However, in a subset of the population devoid of CYP2D6, the identified pathway of metabolism is via CYP3A. In this population subset, inhibition of CYP3A results in significantly higher serum concentrations of tolterodine. A reduction in tolterodine dosage may be necessary in the presence of CYP3A inhibitors, such as clarithromycin in the CYP2D6 poor metaboliser population.
Triazolobenzodiazepines (e.g. alprazolam, midazolam, triazolam)
When midazolam was co-administered with clarithromycin tablets (500 mg twice daily), midazolam AUC was increased 2.7-fold after intravenous administration of midazolam. If intravenous midazolam is co-administered with clarithromycin, the patient must be closely monitored to allow dose adjustment. Drug delivery of midazolam via oromucosal route, which could bypass pre-systemic elimination of the drug, will likely result in a similar interaction to that observed after intravenous midazolam rather than oral administration. The same precautions should also apply to other benzodiazepines that are metabolized by CYP3A, including triazolam and alprazolam. For benzodiazepines which are not dependent on CYP3A for their elimination (temazepam, nitrazepam, lorazepam), a clinically important interaction with clarithromycin is unlikely.
There have been post-marketing reports of drug interactions and central nervous system (CNS) effects (e.g. somnolence and confusion) with the concomitant use of clarithromycin and triazolam. Monitoring the patient for increased CNS pharmacological effects is suggested.
Other drug interactions
Colchicine is a substrate for both CYP3A and the efflux transporter, P-glycoprotein (Pgp). Clarithromycin and other macrolides are known to inhibit CYP3A and Pgp. When clarithromycin and colchicine are administered together, inhibition of Pgp and/or CYP3A by clarithromycin may lead to increased exposure to colchicine (see section 4.3 and 4.4).
Digoxin is thought to be a substrate for the efflux transporter, P-glycoprotein (Pgp). Clarithromycin is known to inhibit Pgp. When clarithromycin and digoxin are administered together, inhibition of Pgp by clarithromycin may lead to increased exposure to digoxin. Elevated digoxin serum concentrations in patients receiving clarithromycin and digoxin concomitantly have also been reported in post marketing surveillance. Some patients have shown clinical signs consistent with digoxin toxicity, including potentially fatal arrhythmias. Serum digoxin concentrations should be carefully monitored while patients are receiving digoxin and clarithromycin simultaneously.
Simultaneous oral administration of clarithromycin tablets and zidovudine to HIV-infected adult patients may result in decreased steady-state zidovudine concentrations. Because clarithromycin appears to interfere with the absorption of simultaneously administered oral zidovudine, this interaction can be largely avoided by staggering the doses of clarithromycin and zidovudine to allow for a 4-hour interval between each medication. This interaction does not appear to occur in paediatric HIV-infected patients taking clarithromycin suspension with zidovudine or dideoxyinosine. This interaction is unlikely when clarithromycin is administered via intravenous infusion.
Phenytoin and Valproate
There have been spontaneous or published reports of interactions of CYP3A inhibitors, including clarithromycin with drugs not thought to be metabolised by CYP3A (e.g. phenytoin and valproate). Serum level determinations are recommended for these drugs when administered concomitantly with clarithromycin. Increased serum levels have been reported.
Concomitant administration of clarithromycin with lomitapide is contraindicated due the potential for markedly increased transaminases (see section 4.3).
Hydroxychloroquine and Chloroquine
Observational data have shown that co-administration of azithromycin with hydroxychloroquine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and cardiovascular mortality. Because of the potential for a similar risk with other macrolides when used in combination with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, careful consideration should be given to the balance of benefits and risks before prescribing clarithromycin for any patients taking hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine.
Bi-directional drug interactions
Both clarithromycin and atazanavir are substrates and inhibitors of CYP3A, and there is evidence of a bi-directional drug interaction. Co-administration of clarithromycin (500 mg twice daily) with atazanavir (400 mg once daily) resulted in a 2- fold increase in exposure to clarithromycin and a 70% decrease in exposure to 14-OH-clarithromycin, with a 28% increase in the AUC of atazanavir. Because of the large therapeutic window for clarithromycin, no dosage reduction should be necessary in patients with normal renal function. For patients with moderate renal function (creatinine clearance 30 to 60 mL/min), the dose of clarithromycin should be decreased by 50%. For patients with creatinine clearance <30 mL/min, the dose of clarithromycin should be decreased by 75% using an appropriate clarithromycin formulation. Doses of clarithromycin greater than 1000 mg per day should not be co-administered with protease inhibitors.
Calcium Channel Blockers
Caution is advised regarding the concomitant administration of clarithromycin and calcium channel blockers metabolized by CYP3A4 (e.g., verapamil, amlodipine, diltiazem) due to the risk of hypotension. Plasma concentrations of clarithromycin as well as calcium channel blockers may increase due to the interaction. Hypotension, bradyarrhythmias and lactic acidosis have been observed in patients taking clarithromycin and verapamil concomitantly.
Both clarithromycin and itraconazole are substrates and inhibitors of CYP3A, leading to a bidirectional drug interaction. Clarithromycin may increase the plasma levels of itraconazole, while itraconazole may increase the plasma levels of clarithromycin. Patients taking itraconazole and clarithromycin concomitantly should be monitored closely for signs or symptoms of increased or prolonged pharmacologic effect.
Both clarithromycin and saquinavir are substrates and inhibitors of CYP3A, and there is evidence of a bi-directional drug interaction. Concomitant administration of clarithromycin (500 mg twice daily) and saquinavir (soft gelatin capsules, 1200 mg three times daily) to 12 healthy volunteers resulted in steady-state AUC and Cmax values of saquinavir which were 177% and 187% higher than those seen with saquinavir alone. Clarithromycin AUC and Cmax values were approximately 40% higher than those seen with clarithromycin alone. No dose adjustment is required when the two drugs are co-administered for a limited time at the doses/formulations studied. Observations from drug interaction studies using the soft gelatin capsule formulation may not be representative of the effects seen using the saquinavir hard gelatin capsule. Observations from drug interaction studies performed with saquinavir alone may not be representative of the effects seen with saquinavir/ritonavir therapy. When saquinavir is co-administered with ritonavir, consideration should be given to the potential effects of ritonavir on clarithromycin (see section 4.5: Ritonavir).
Patients taking oral contraceptives should be warned that if diarrhoea, vomiting or breakthrough bleeding occur there is a possibility of contraceptive failure.
The safety of clarithromycin for use during pregnancy has not been established. Based on variable results obtained from animal studies and experience in humans, the possibility of adverse effects on embryofoetal development cannot be excluded. Some observational studies evaluating exposure to clarithromycin during the first and second trimester have reported an increased risk of miscarriage compared to no antibiotic use or other antibiotic use during the same period. The available epidemiological studies on the risk of major congenital malformations with use of macrolides including clarithromycin during pregnancy provide conflicting results. Therefore, use during pregnancy is not advised without carefully weighing the benefits against risks (see section 5.3).
The safety of clarithromycin for use during breast feeding of infants has not been established. Clarithromycin is excreted into human breast milk in small amounts. It has been estimated that an exclusively breastfed infant would receive about 1.7% of the maternal weight-adjusted dose of clarithromycin.
In the rat, fertility studies have not shown any evidence of harmful effects (see section 5.3).
There are no data on the effect of clarithromycin on the ability to drive or use machines. The potential for dizziness, vertigo, confusion and disorientation, which may occur with the medication, should be taken into account before patients drive or use machines.
a. Summary of the safety profile
The most frequent and common adverse reactions related to clarithromycin therapy for both adult and paediatric populations are abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and taste perversion. These adverse reactions are usually mild in intensity and are consistent with the known safety profile of macrolide antibiotics (see section b of section 4.8).
There was no significant difference in the incidence of these gastrointestinal adverse reactions during clinical trials between the patient population with or without preexisting mycobacterial infections.
b. Tabulated summary of adverse reactions
The following table displays adverse reactions reported in clinical trials and from post-marketing experience with clarithromycin immediate-release tablets, granules for oral suspension, powder for solution for injection, extended release tablets and modified-release tablets.
The reactions considered at least possibly related to clarithromycin are displayed by system organ class and frequency using the following convention: very common (≥1/10), common (≥1/100 to <1/10), uncommon (≥1/1,000 to <1/100) and not known (adverse reactions from post-marketing experience; cannot be estimated from the available data). Within each frequency grouping, adverse reactions are presented in order of decreasing seriousness when the seriousness could be assessed.
System Organ Class
Very common (≥1/10
Common ≥ 1/100 to < 1/10
Uncommon ≥1/1,000 to < 1/100
Not Known (cannot be estimated from the available data)
Infections and infestations
Cellulitis1, candidiasis, gastroenteritis2, infection3, vaginal infection
Pseudomembranous colitis, erysipelas
Blood and lymphatic system
Leukopenia, neutropenia4, thrombocythemia3, eosinophilia4
Immune system disorders5
Anaphylactoid reaction1, Hypersensitivity
Anaphylactic reaction, angioedema
Metabolism and nutrition disorders
Anorexia, decreased appetite
Psychotic disorder, confusional state5, depersonalisation, depression, disorientation, hallucination, abnormal dreams, mania
Nervous system disorders
Dysgeusia, headache, taste perversion
Loss of consciousness1, dyskinesia1, dizziness, somnolence5, tremor
Convulsion, ageusia, parosmia, anosmia, paraesthesia
Ear and labyrinth disorders
Vertigo, hearing, impaired, tinnitus
Cardiac arrest1, atrial fibrillation1, electrocardiogram QT prolonged, extrasystoles1, palpitations
Torsades de pointes, ventricular tachycardia
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorder
Asthma1, epistaxis2, pulmonary embolism1
Diarrhoea, vomiting, dyspepsia, nausea, abdominal pain
Oesophagitis1, gastrooesophageal reflux disease2, gastritis, proctalgia2, stomatitis, glossitis, abdominal distension4, constipation, dry mouth, eructation, flatulence
Pancreatitis acute, tongue discolouration, tooth discolouration
Liver function test abnormal
Cholestasis4, hepatitis4, alanine aminotransferase increased, aspartate aminotransferase increased, gamma-glutamyltransferase increased4
Hepatic failure, jaundice hepatocellular
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders
Dermatitis bullous1, pruritus, urticaria, rash maculo-papular3
Severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCAR) (e.g. Acute generalised exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS)), acne
Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders
Muscle spasms3, musculoskeletal stiffness1, myalgia2
Rhabdomyolysis2, 6, myopathy
Renal and urinary disorders
Blood creatinine increased1, blood urea increased1
Renal failure, nephritis interstitial
General disorders and administration site conditions
Injection site phlebitis1
Injection site pain1, injection site inflammation1
Malaise4, pyrexia3, asthenia, chest pain4, chills4, fatigue4
Albumin globulin ratio abnormal1 , blood alkaline phosphatase increased4, blood lactate dehydrogenase increased4
International normalised ratio increased, prothrombin time prolonged, urine colour abnormal
1 ADRs reported only for the Concentrate for Solution for Infusion formulation
2ADRs reported only for the Extended-Release Tablets formulation
3 ADRs reported only for the Granules for Oral Suspension formulation
4 ADRs reported only for the Immediate-Release Tablets formulation
5, 6 See section c)
* Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure. Patient exposure is estimated to be greater than 1 billion patient treatment days for clarithromycin.
c. Description of selected adverse reactions
Injection site phlebitis, injection site pain, and injection site inflammation are specific to the clarithromycin intravenous formulation.
In some of the reports of rhabdomyolysis, clarithromycin was administered concomitantly with statins, fibrates, colchicine or allopurinol (see section 4.3 and 4.4).
There have been post-marketing reports of drug interactions and central nervous system (CNS) effects (e.g. somnolence and confusion) with the concomitant use of clarithromycin and triazolam. Monitoring the patient for increased CNS pharmacological effects is suggested (see section 4.5).
There have been rare reports of clarithromycin ER tablets in the stool, many of which have occurred in patients with anatomic (including ileostomy or colostomy) or functional gastrointestinal disorders with shortened GI transit times. In several reports, tablet residues have occurred in the context of diarrhoea. It is recommended that patients who experience tablet residue in the stool and no improvement in their condition should be switched to a different clarithromycin formulation (e.g. suspension) or another antibiotic.
Special population: Adverse Reactions in Immunocompromised Patients (see section e).
d. Paediatric populations
Clinical trials have been conducted using clarithromycin paediatric suspension in children 6 months to 12 years of age. Therefore, children under 12 years of age should use clarithromycin paediatric suspension.
Frequency, type and severity of adverse reactions in children are expected to be the same as in adults.
e. Other special populations
In AIDS and other immunocompromised patients treated with the higher doses of clarithromycin over long periods of time for mycobacterial infections, it was often difficult to distinguish adverse events possibly associated with clarithromycin administration from underlying signs of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) disease or intercurrent illness.
In adult patients, the most frequently reported adverse reactions by patients treated with total daily doses of 1,000 mg and 2,000 mg of clarithromycin were: nausea, vomiting, taste perversion, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, rash, flatulence, headache, constipation, hearing disturbance, Serum Glutamic Oxaloacetic Transaminase (SGOT) and Serum Glutamic Pyruvate Transaminase (SGPT) elevations. Additional low-frequency events included dyspnoea, insomnia and dry mouth. The incidences were comparable for patients treated with 1,000 mg and 2,000 mg, but were generally about 3 to 4 times as frequent for those patients who received total daily doses of 4,000 mg of clarithromycin.
In these immunocompromised patients, evaluations of laboratory values were made by analysing those values outside the seriously abnormal level (i.e. the extreme high or low limit) for the specified test. On the basis of these criteria, about 2% to 3% of those patients who received 1,000 mg or 2,000 mg of clarithromycin daily had seriously abnormal elevated levels of SGOT and SGPT, and abnormally low white blood cell and platelet counts. A lower percentage of patients in these two dosage groups also had elevated Blood Urea Nitrogen levels. Slightly higher incidences of abnormal values were noted for patients who received 4,000 mg daily for all parameters except White Blood Cell.
Reporting of suspected adverse reactions
Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme at: www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard or search for MHRA Yellow Card in the Google Play or Apple App Store.
Reports indicate that the ingestion of large amounts of clarithromycin can be expected to produce gastrointestinal symptoms. One patient who had a history of bipolar disorder ingested 8 grams of clarithromycin and showed altered mental status, paranoid behaviour, hypokalaemia and hypoxaemia.
Adverse reactions accompanying overdosage should be treated by the prompt elimination of unabsorbed drug and supportive measures. As with other macrolides, clarithromycin serum levels are not expected to be appreciably affected by haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Antibacterial for systemic use, macrolide
ATC code: J01FA09
Mechanism of action:
Clarithromycin is an antibiotic belonging to the macrolide antibiotic group. It exerts its antibacterial action by selectively binding to the 50s ribosomal sub-unit of susceptible bacteria preventing translocation of activated amino acids. It inhibits the intracellular protein synthesis of susceptible bacteria.
The 14-hydroxy metabolite of clarithromycin, a product of parent drug metabolism also has antimicrobial activity. The metabolite is less active than the parent compound for most organisms, including mycobacterium spp. An exception is Haemophilus influenza where the 14-hydroxy metabolite is two-fold more active than the parent compound.
Clarithromycin is usually active against the following organisms in vitro:
Gram-positive Bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus (methicillin susceptible); Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci); alpha-hemolytic streptococci (viridans group); Streptococcus (Diplococcus) pneumoniae; Streptococcus agalactiae; Listeria monocytogenes.
Gram-negative Bacteria: Haemophilus influenzae; Haemophilus parainfluenzae;Moraxella (Branhamella) catarrhalis; Neisseria gonorrhoeae; Legionella pneumophila; Bordetella pertussis; Helicobacter pylori; Campylobacter jejuni.
Mycoplasma: Mycoplasma pneumoniae; Ureaplasma urealyticum.
Other Organisms: Chlamydia trachomatis; Mycobacterium avium; Mycobacterium leprae.
Anaerobes: Macrolide-susceptible Bacteroides fragilis; Clostridium perfringens; Peptococcus species; Peptostreptococcus species; Propionibacterium acnes.
Clarithromycin has bactericidal activity against several bacterial strains. The organisms include Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus agalactiae, Moraxella (Branhamella) catarrhalis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, H. pylori and Campylobacter spp.
Breakpoints (MIC, mg/L)
Streptococcus A, B, C and G
Viridans group streptococcus
0.5 mg/L 1
1 The breakpoints are based on epidemiological cut-off values (ECOFFs), which distinguish wild-type isolates from those with reduces susceptibility.
“IE" indicates that there is insufficient evidence that the species in question is a good target for therapy with the drug.
H. pylori is associated with acid peptic disease including duodenal ulcer and gastric ulcer in which about 95% and 80% of patients respectively are infected with the agent. H. pylori is also implicated as a major contribution factor in the development of gastric and ulcer recurrence in such patients.
Clarithromycin has been used in small numbers of patients in other treatment regimens. Possible kinetic interactions have not been fully investigated. These regimens include:
Clarithromycin plus tinidazole and omeprazole; clarithromycin plus tetracycline, bismuth subsalicylate and ranitidine; clarithromycin plus ranitidine alone.
Clinical studies using various different H. pylori eradication regimens have shown that eradication of H. pylori prevents ulcer recurrence.
Clarithromycin is rapidly and well absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract after oral administration. The microbiologically active metabolite 14-hydroxyclarithromycin is formed by first pass metabolism. Clarithromycin may be given without regard to meals as food does not affect the extent of bioavailability of Clarithromycin tablets. Food does slightly delay the onset of absorption of clarithromycin and formation of the 14-hydroxymetabolite.
The pharmacokinetics of clarithromycin are non linear; however, steady-state is attained within 2 days of dosing. At 250 mg b.i.d. 15-20% of unchanged drug is excreted in the urine. With 500 mg b.i.d. daily dosing urinary excretion is greater (approximately 36%). The 14-hydroxyclarithromycin is the major urinary metabolite and accounts for 10-15% of the dose. Most of the remainder of the dose is eliminated in the faeces, primarily via the bile. 5-10% of the parent drug is recovered from the faeces.
When clarithromycin 500 mg is given three times daily, the clarithromycin plasma concentrations are increased with respect to the 500 mg twice daily dosage.
Clarithromycin provides tissue concentrations that are several times higher than the circulating drug levels. Increased levels have been found in both tonsillar and lung tissue. Clarithromycin is 80% bound to plasma proteins at therapeutic levels.
Clarithromycin also penetrates the gastric mucus. Levels of clarithromycin in gastric mucus and gastric tissue are higher when clarithromycin is co-administered with omeprazole than when clarithromycin is administered alone.
In acute mouse and rat studies, the median lethal dose was greater than the highest feasible dose for administration (5g/kg).
In repeated dose studies, toxicity was related to dose, duration of treatment and species. Dogs were more sensitive than primates or rats. The major clinical signs at toxic doses included emesis, weakness, reduced food consumption and weight gain, salivation, dehydration and hyperactivity. In all species the liver was the primary target organ at toxic doses. Hepatotoxicity was detectable by early elevations of liver function tests. Discontinuation of the drug generally resulted in a return to or toward normal results. Other tissues less commonly affected included the stomach, thymus and other lymphoid tissues and the kidneys. At near therapeutic doses, conjunctival injection and lacrimation occurred only in dogs. At a massive dose of 400mg/kg/day, some dogs and monkeys developed corneal opacities and/or oedema.
Fertility, Reproduction and Teratogenicity
Studies performed in rats at oral doses up to 500 mg/kg/day (highest dose associated with overt renal toxicity) demonstrated no evidence for clarithromycin-related adverse effects on male fertility. This dose corresponds to a human equivalent dose (HED) of approximately 5 times the maximum recommended human dose (MRHD) on a mg/m2 basis for a 60-kg individual.
Fertility and reproduction studies in female rats have shown that a daily dosage of 150 mg/kg/day (highest dose tested) caused no adverse effects on the oestrus cycle, fertility, parturition and number and viability of offspring. Oral teratogenicity studies in rats (Wistar and Spraque-Dawley), rabbits (New Zealand White) and cynomolgous monkeys failed to demonstrate any teratogenicity from clarithromycin at the highest doses tested up to 1.5, 2.4 and 1.5 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis in the respective species. However, a similar study in Sprague-Dawley rats indicated a low (6%) incidence of cardiovascular abnormalities which appeared to be due to spontaneous expression of genetic changes. Two mouse studies revealed a variable incidence (3-30%) of cleft palate at ~5 times the MRHD on a mg/m2 basis for a 60-kg individual. Embryonic loss was seen in monkeys but only at dose levels which were clearly toxic to the mothers.
Silica, colloidal anhydrous
Titanium dioxide (E 171)
Iron oxide yellow (E 172)
This medicinal product does not require any special storage conditions.
Clarithromycin 250 mg tablets are available in clear PVC /PVdC/Aluminium blister packs of: 7, 12, 14 and 21 film-coated tablets.
Not all pack sizes may be marketed.
Any unused medicinal product or waste material should be disposed of in accordance with local requirements.
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