Oral versus intravenous clarithromycin in moderate to severe community-acquired pneumonia: an observational study

Nikolas Rae, Aran Singanayagam, Stuart Schembri, James D. Chalmers

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Objectives: British Thoracic Society guidelines recommend clarithromycin in addition to beta-lactam antibiotics for patients with community-acquired pneumonia and CURB-65 score 2-5. Intravenous therapy is commonly used but there are few data on whether oral therapy is equally effective.

Methods: This observational study used propensity matching to compare two groups of patients with moderate to severe community-acquired pneumonia (CURB-65 score 2-5) treated with oral (n = 226) or intravenous (n = 226) clarithromycin on admission. Outcomes were 30-day mortality, intensive care unit admission, time to clinical stability, and length of hospital stay.

Results: There was no significant difference in 30-day mortality (16.8% for intravenous [IV] group vs. 14.6% for oral group, hazard ratio for IV group 1.11 95% CI 0.70-1.78), ICU admission (10.6% in both groups) or complications (10.6% for IV group and 9.3% for oral group) between the groups. The time to clinical stability in both cohorts was a median of 5 days (interquartile range 3-7 days, p = 0.3). The median length of hospital stay was 8 days in the IV group (interquartile range 4-14 days) and 7 days in the oral group (interquartile range 4-13 days), p = 0.5. No other differences were observed between oral and IV groups.

Conclusion: Where the oral route is not compromised, oral macrolides appear to be equivalent to IV in treating moderate to severe CAP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2017



  • Macrolide
  • Pneumonia
  • Severity
  • Combination therapy
  • Antibiotic

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