A new respiratory fluoroquinolone, oral gemifloxacin: a safety profile in context
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Gemifloxacin is a broad-spectrum quinolone antibacterial with enhanced potency against Gram-positive bacteria, including multi-drug resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae, and retained potency against Gram-negative bacilli and bacterial strains resistant to other antibiotics. It has proven particularly effective in respiratory and urinary tract infection. This review presents safety data from 6775 patients included in clinical trials, receiving either the recommended 320 mg once daily oral dose of gemifloxacin, or standard dose of other quinolones, macrolides or beta-lactams (n = 5248). Studies in healthy volunteer and special populations are also reported. Adverse experiences (AEs) were observed in 44.7% of gemifloxacin-treated patients and 47.5% of those who received comparator drugs. Mild gastro-intestinal adverse drug reactions (ADRs) (diarrhoea 5.1%, nausea 3.9%) predominated. Rash, usually maculo-papular and in no case proceeding to more severe eruptions, was observed in 3.6% of those receiving gemifloxacin. A higher incidence of rash (>20%) was observed in young women and was the subject of further study. Adverse drug reactions suspected or probably related to treatment occurred in 17.4% of patients receiving gemifloxacin and in 20% of those receiving comparator antibiotics. Diarrhoea and nausea were experienced by 3.6 and 2.7%, respectively, of gemifloxacin-treated patients (4.6 and 3.2% of comparators), rash by 2.8% (0.6% of comparators) and headache by 1.2% (1.5% of comparators). Gemifloxacin-related vomiting (0.9%), dizziness (0.8%) and taste perversion (0.3%) were uncommon. Treatment discontinuation followed one or more adverse drug reactions in 2.2% of gemifloxacin-treated patients (0.9% due to rash) and 2.1% of comparator-treated patients. A total of 63 deaths (33 receiving gemifloxacin) occurred in the trial population: none were considered related to treatment. A slight prolongation in QT interval (2.56 ms (S.D. +/-24.5)) was observed in gemifloxacin-treated patients: no cardiac arrhythmias were reported. There was a low incidence of liver function tests (LFTs) classified as of potential clinical concern: gemifloxacin (0.4-1.2%), comparators (0.2-1.3%). Serious adverse events (SAEs), occurring during but not necessarily related to therapy, occurred in 3.6% of gemifloxacin-treated patients (4.3% of comparators). SAEs related to treatment agents were rare (0.4% in each group) and included rash (0.1%) and elevated liver enzymes (<0.1%). Gemifloxacin was well tolerated by the elderly, those with renal or hepatic impairment and when co-administered with omeprazole, digoxin, theophylline, warfarin (with which there were no significant interactions) and Maalox. In conclusion, gemifloxacin 320 mg once daily demonstrated a favourable safety and tolerability profile similar to that of comparator antibiotics, including other quinolones.
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