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Antibiotic, Telithromycin, Can Help Some Asthma Patients

Main Category: Asthma/Respiratory News
Article Date: 13 Apr 2006 - 7:00am (PDT)

According to an international study of 278 patients in 70 centres, an antibiotic called Telithromycin reduces asthma symptoms and enhances lung function. Researchers also found that the drug improved recovery times.

Telithromycin is currently used for the treatment of sinusitis. You can read about this study in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

To be in the study the patients were treated within 24 hours of having an acute asthma attack. Half of the patients were given 800 mgs of Telithromycin while the other half were given a placebo. The treatment lasted ten days.

Both groups were also given general asthma treatment.

(Placebo = A dummy drug, a ‘pretend' drug. It has no active ingredient. It is a product with no medicinal value. A placebo is used to compare its results with those of a drug. The group taking the placebo is usually called the ‘control group')

The Telithromycin group experienced better lung function than those in the control group (lung function improved twice as well). The Telithromycin group recovered from an acute attack in five days, for the control group it took eight days. Lung capacity tests indicated that both groups were the same (no improvement).

The results have surprised many people because it is thought that most acute asthma attacks are caused by viral infections. Antibiotics should have no effect on a viral infection.

(Antibiotics are used to target bacteria, not viruses)

Two bacteria, Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, were present in 61% of the patients. The scientists believe that the antibiotic attacked those bacteria, and this helped the patients.

If Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae contribute towards the severity of an asthma attack, then giving the patient Telithromycin may help reduce its effect, say the researchers. They also believe the recovery times improved because of the anti-inflammatory effects of the antibiotic.

All the researchers involved in this trial agreed that further research is needed.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today

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