For years, doctors considered Z pack side effects to be relatively minor, primarily consisting of basic GI discomfort and abdominal pain. Also known by its trade name azithromycin, the antibiotic was therefore regarded as safe in a large number of applications. It is also effective against a lot of bacterial species, and remains in the body for a long time when taken, so it is a preferred choice for many outpatient cases. All of these factors have made azithromycin one of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the country, and more than 40 million people were given the medication in 2011. In light of recent research, though, this appears to have been a dangerous decision.
Are there are any serious Z pack side effects patients should be concerned about?
In 2012, the New England Journal of Medicine published the findings of a study regarding azithromycin’s safety. During the study, researchers reviewed the patient histories of nearly 350,000 people taking the drug. The study also compared the experimental group to a control group that took no antibiotics, and several groups that took other antibiotics, like amoxicillin.
The researchers found that the people who took azithromycin were at an increased risk of suffering from major, even fatal cardiac events. Specifically, the researchers determined that for every 1 million patients who take azithromycin instead of another antibiotic, 47 will die due to cardiac complications. In almost all cases, azithromycin only affects people who are already at risk of heart problems, like those suffering from long QT syndrome. Azithromycin can prolong the QT interval further, or result in a rare condition known as torsade de pointes. In either case, the arrhythmia can cause ventricular fibrillation and remove the heart’s ability to pump blood.
In March 2013, the FDA acknowledged the presence of serious Z pack side effects, and released a safety alert to healthcare providers. Doctors are now required to alert their patients about potential complications, and the drug’s labeling has been updated to reflect the findings.
What should someone do if they or someone they love has been harmed by Z pack side effects?
Legal and medical experts expect a wave of claims against the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer. Although the risk of cardiac issues is extremely low among healthy individuals, the drug is still responsible for dozens of preventable deaths and serious injuries. Pfizer had a responsibility during the creation of the drug to test it thoroughly for any possible risks. Pfizer therefore failed to catch, or failed to reveal, the risk of serious heart problems associated with its medication.
As severe heart complications can force a person out of work, put them in the hospital, or take away their life, anyone affected by the drug should consider speaking with an attorney to discuss options for legal representation. In the coming months, hundreds of claims will likely be filed against Pfizer, and these claims stand a high chance of attaining compensation for victims.