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Vol. 86, No. 3, 2013
Issue release date: September 2013

Macrolide Therapy Decreases Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Exacerbation: A Meta-Analysis

Yao G.-Y. · Ma Y.-L. · Zhang M.-Q. · Gao Z.-C.
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Abstract

Background: Macrolide antibiotics have anti-inflammatory effects, and long-term administration may reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations. Objective: To investigate the effects of long-term treatment of macrolide therapy for COPD. Methods: We searched the PubMed and Embase databases to identify randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effect of macrolide therapy (of at least 2 weeks) for COPD. The primary outcome assessed was the frequency of acute exacerbations during follow-up. Results: Six trials involving 1,485 COPD patients were included in the analysis. Analysis of the pooled data of all 6 trials showed that macrolide administration reduced the frequency of acute exacerbations of COPD [risk ratio (RR) = 0.62; 95% CI 0.43-0.89, p = 0.01]. Subgroup analysis showed that only erythromycin might be associated with decreased COPD exacerbations (erythromycin: p = 0.04, azithromycin: p = 0.22, clarithromycin: p = 0.18). Moreover, macrolide therapy for 3 months did not significantly reduce the number of exacerbations (p = 0.18), whereas a beneficial effect was conclusive in the 6-month (p = 0.009) and 12-month (p = 0.03) treatment subgroups. In addition, nonfatal adverse events were more frequent in the macrolide treatment groups than in the controls (RR = 1.32; 95% CI 1.06-1.64, p = 0.01). However, related clinical factors had no influence on the overall result (p = 0.19). There was no publication bias among the included trials. Conclusions: Macrolide therapy was effective and safe in decreasing the frequency of exacerbations in patients with COPD. Treatment might provide a significant benefit but only when therapy lasts more than 6 months.



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Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
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