Feds warn that Zithromax (also called Zmax, azithromycin) can be deadly

Pharmaceuticals help address countless medical problems in America; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 48 percent of Americans regularly take at least one prescription drug. Yet, while drugs can work wonders, sometimes demand for new cures can lead drug makers to rush products to market without a full understanding of their potential side effects.

When it comes to poorly tested pharmaceuticals, sometimes the cure is worse than the illness. In a recent public statement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that the popular antibiotic azithromycin, marketed under the names Zithromax and Zmax, can cause severe and even deadly side effects in some patients.

Zithromax found to cause fatal heart rhythms

While the FDA's warning did not come until the spring of 2013, potential problems with Zmax were first discovered in a study published last May. The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that compared to patients who took several other types of antibiotics, those taking Zithromax were significantly more likely to suffer from fatal heart rhythms.

An FDA follow up review of the study and an internal study by the maker of Zithromax ensued, and it was confirmed that the drug could indeed cause harmful changes in the heart's electrical activity. An abnormal and potentially fatal heart rhythm called prolonged QT interval was linked to some patients taking Zithromax.

The FDA's warning does not call for the complete suspension of Zithromax use. Rather, regulators called for doctors to exercise caution when considering the drug for patients already suffering from irregular heart contractions or who had certain risk factors, such at a slow heart rate, low potassium or magnesium levels and taking certain other drugs.

Zithromax is produced by Pfizer. There are also generic versions of Zmax available. According to IMS health, U.S. sales of brand name Zithromax topped $450 million in 2011.

Contact an attorney if you or a family member may have been harmed by Zmax

If you have been harmed by a dangerous drug, or if a family member has been killed, you may have legal recourse against the pharmaceutical company responsible for producing the medication. While there has not been widespread Zithromax litigation yet, family members of those killed by the drug are beginning to explore the possibility of taking legal action.

If you or a family member took Zmax and experienced abnormal heart activity, you might be entitled to financial compensation. Contact an attorney today to learn more about your potential legal options.