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clarithromycin (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking clarithromycin (Biaxin, Biaxin XL, Biaxin XL-Pak)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to clarithromycin or to similar medicines such as azithromycin (Zithromax), erythromycin (E.E.S., EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythrocin, Pediazole), or telithromycin (Ketek).

You should not use this medication if you have a life-threatening heart rhythm disorder, a history of Long QT syndrome, if you have ever had jaundice or liver problems caused by taking clarithromycin, or if you have liver or kidney disease and are also taking colchicine (Colcrys).

Do not use clarithromycin if you are also using any of the drugs listed below. They can interact with clarithromycin and cause serious or life-threatening side effects:

  • cisapride (Propulsid);
  • pimozide (Orap);
  • lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev, Advicor) or simvastatin (Zocor, Simcor, Vytorin); or
  • ergot medicine such as ergotamine (Ergomar, Ergostat, Cafergot, Ercaf, Wigraine), or dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal Nasal Spray).

To make sure you can safely take clarithromycin, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether clarithromycin will harm an unborn baby. Before you take clarithromycin, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is not known whether clarithromycin passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give this medicine to a child younger than 6 months of age.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects on heart rhythm, including a life-threatening fast heart rate.

How should I take clarithromycin (Biaxin, Biaxin XL, Biaxin XL-Pak)?

Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

You may take clarithromycin tablets and oral suspension (liquid) with or without food.

Clarithromycin extended-release tablets (Biaxin XL) should be taken with food.

Do not crush, chew, or break an extended-release tablet. Swallow it whole. Breaking the pill may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time.

Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. Measure the liquid with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

Take this medicine for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Clarithromycin will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not keep the oral liquid in a refrigerator.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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