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Free Content A retrospective comparison of clarithromycin versus rifampin in combination treatment for disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex disease in AIDS: clarithromycin decreases transfusion requirements

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Setting: Urban county medical center.

Objective: To compare clinical outcomes associated with two treatment regimens for AIDS-associated disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (DMAC). From 1989 to mid-1992, patients were treated with rifampin, ethambutol, and clofazimine; in mid-1992 clarithromycin replaced rifampin.

Design: A retrospective review of patients with DMAC; the main outcome measures assessed were toxicity associated with DMAC treatment, transfusions after the diagnosis of DMAC, and survival.

Results: 88 patients received the rifampin-based regimen and 86 were treated with the clarithromycin-based regimen. Drug-related adverse events were recorded less frequently with clarithromycin treatment (21% vs. 42%, P = 0.005), and additional antimycobacterial agents were used less often (28% vs. 44%, P = 0.04). In a multivariate logistic regression model, severe anemia at the time of DMAC diagnosis was associated with transfusion-dependence (relative risk [RR] 5.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.2, 13.8, P < 0.001) and clarithromycin treatment was inversely associated with transfusion dependence (RR 0.4, 95% CI 0.1, 0.98, P = 0.04). In a multivariate Cox regression model including other factors affecting survival, clarithromycin treatment did not confer a survival advantage (P = 0.74).

ConclusionS: The clarithromycin-containing regimen was better tolerated and was associated with substantially lower transfusion requirements than the rifampin-based regimen; survival was not affected.

Keywords: AIDS; Mycobacterium avium complex; clarithromycin; rifampin; transfusion

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Denver Disease Control Service, Denver Health and Hospitals, Denver, Colorado, USA; and Department of Medicine (Division of Infectious Diseases), University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, USA 2: Denver Disease Control Service, Denver Health and Hospitals, Denver, Colorado, USA; and Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, USA

Publication date: April 1, 1997

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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