Heart Beats: Lawyers at Console & Hollawell Weigh in on the FDA’s New Warning Against Zithromax

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A year-old report from the New England Journal of Medicine has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to warn doctors and patients about sharply increased heart risks when taking the popular antibiotic azithromycin, more commonly known as Zithromax or Z-Pak. In Philadelphia, personal injury attorney Richard P. Console Jr. wonders what this new federal alert could mean for patients who’ve already suffered a severe reaction to Zithromax.

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How can we miss the irony that a manufacturer tried to find evidence that its medication had heart benefits when it can actually cause significant heart damage? There could be liability issues looming.

A year-old report from the New England Journal of Medicine has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to warn doctors and patients about sharply increased heart risks when taking the popular antibiotic azithromycin, more commonly known as Zithromax or Z-Pak. Publicized by multiple media outlets, including NBC News, the FDA’s new warning relates to the ways the drug can interrupt the electrical signals in the heart causing a rare, but deadly arrhythmia. In Philadelphia, personal injury attorney Richard P. Console Jr. wonders what this new federal alert could mean for patients who’ve already suffered a severe reaction to Zithromax.

“The class of antibiotics that Zithromax is in has a known risk of causing rare, but potentially lethal heart-related events,” he said. “What researchers discovered showed a marked increase in the number of heart failures or attacks when taking the drug as compared to other antibiotics in its class. There could be hundreds of victims out there who took this drug, died because of it, and left devastated family members behind.”

According to the New York Daily News, the data culled by researchers at Vanderbilt University suggested there would be 47 extra heart-related deaths for every 1 million people taking Zithromax compared to amoxicillin, another ubiquitous antibiotic. To compare data, the article states, there would be 85 heart-related deaths from taking Z-Pak as opposed to 32 from taking amoxicillin (or a comparable antibiotic) and 30 in patients taking no antibiotic at all. The damage can occur in as little as five days, which is the usual length of treatment for Zithromax.    

This isn’t the first time Pfizer, the maker of Zithromax, has suffered a setback regarding the merits of their popular bacteria-fighting drug. In 2002, the large pharmaceutical manufacturer released data showing that Zithromax did not help reduce the hardening of arteries in heart attack patients, according to the New York Times. Console, a pharmaceutical injury lawyer in Philadelphia since 1994, sees the company’s actions as symptomatic of the entire industry.

“Pharmaceutical companies want to attach their products to health benefits because it obviously has the potential to increase sales,” he said. “What we’ve seen in the data is a drug, taken by millions of people, that has the potential to cause a fatal heart condition in a short amount of time. How can we miss the irony that a manufacturer tried to find evidence that its medication had heart benefits when it can actually cause significant heart damage? There could be liability issues looming.”

Sales of Zithromax in 2011 in the United States alone were $464,000,000, according to the NY Daily News.

Richard P Console Jr. is the managing partner of Console & Hollawell P.C. The firm has represented more than 5,000 clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including those injured by pharmaceuticals, obtaining more than $30 million in compensation for them.

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/antibiotic-linked-rare-deadly-heart-risk-exchange-zithromax-azithromycin-doctors-article-1.1080016

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/19/business/pfizer-antibiotic-fails-in-heart-disease-test.html

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