Study objectives: To compare the safety and efficacy of oral azithromycin and levofloxacin in the treatment of outpatients with acute bacterial exacerbations of chronic bronchitis (ABECB).
Design: Randomized, double-blinded, double-dummy, multicenter trial with 1:1 treatment allocation.
Setting: Outpatient treatment setting.
Patients: Two hundred thirty-five male or female outpatients between the ages of 35 and 75 years who had received a clinical diagnosis of ABECB.
Interventions: Blinded treatment with either oral azithromycin, 500 mg on day 1 and 250 mg per day for days 2 to 5, or, oral levofloxacin, 500 mg q24h for 7 days.
Results: Both treatments were well-tolerated, with the majority of adverse events being GI in nature. Favorable clinical outcomes in clinically evaluable patients were demonstrated in 89% of patients receiving azithromycin and in 92% of patients receiving levofloxacin by day 4 of therapy. At day 24, the posttherapy visit, favorable responses were approximately 82% and 86%, respectively, for patients in the two treatment groups. The bacterial eradication rates of respiratory pathogens were 96% for azithromycin and 85% for levofloxacin.
Conclusions: Despite increasing concerns over macrolide resistance and a higher incidence of Gram-negative pathogens, a standard 5-day course of oral azithromycin was clinically and bacteriologically equivalent to a 7-day course of oral levofloxacin in the treatment of patients with ABECB.