FDA Issues Warning About Popular Antibiotic

FDA Issues Warning About Popular Antibiotic

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The FDA on Tuesday issued a warning about the possible treatment known as "Z-Pak." The FDA on Tuesday issued a warning about the possible treatment known as "Z-Pak."

A popular antibiotic prescribed to treat common bacterial infections could carry serious heart risks.

If you've ever taken a "Z-Pak," you need to read this. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Tuesday to doctors, and patients who have or may have heart problems.

Z-Paks are popular and widely prescribed because patients take fewer doses over a shorter period of time, compared to some other antibiotics. And when you're feeling lousy, those are the little pills that can make you feel a whole lot better in just a matter of days. "It's used all the time on a daily basis by many, many health care professionals," Fox 29's Dr. Mike Cirigliano said.

But new information prompted the FDA to issue a warning to doctors: if a patient has certain heart problems, they should not be prescribed a Z-pack, otherwise known as Azithromycin or Zithromax. The FDA says the drug could increase the risk of cardiovascular death in high-risk patients. So who exactly is high risk? Dr. Mike said "low magnesium, low potassium, if they have a history of an abnormal EKG," are among the risk factors. In other words, you need to know how healthy your heart is. And if you don't know, you'll want to find out before taking a Z-Pak.

Melissa Lopez is taking the warning to heart. "We do need to back off and let some colds take their course," Lopez told Fox 29. "I think it's a risk you take with any medication." Dr. Mike called the news a "game changer." "It's going to require that if someone is that sick that they need an antibiotic, it's going to be hard for us to say, hey we'll just give you a Z-Pak over the phone without seeing you," Dr. Mike acknowledged.

In an era where critics complain antibiotics are over-prescribed, and too many patients look to a pill for relief, the Z-Pak warning is sobering. "I probably would still take the Z-Pak," Stephanie Wurgler told Fox 29, "but obviously, if you have a family physician that you see, they would probably know your history, and it would be better to talk to them to make sure that they think it's okay for you."

That's the same advice from Pfizer, the maker of the Z-Pak. The company says most patients will not be affected, but you should talk to your doctor if you have any reason to be concerned. The FDA said it's also putting a stronger warning on the drug's label, just in case.

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