What is clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin is anprescription medicine approved by the U.S. (FDA) to treat certain bacterial infections, such as , throat infections (pharyngitis), acute sinus infections, and others. Clarithromycin is also FDA-approved to both prevent and treat , another type of bacterial infection.
Community-acquired pneumonia, a bacterial respiratory disease, andMAC infection can be s (OIs) of HIV. An OI is an that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened —such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems.
To learn more about OIs, read the HIVinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.
How is clarithromycin used in people with HIV?
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV, and the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Exposed and HIV-infected Children include recommendations on the uses of clarithromycin in people with HIV to:
- Infections of the bloodstream and bone caused by Bartonella bacteria (also called )
- Disseminated MAC infection from occurring the first time and from recurring
The recommended uses may not always be consistent with FDA-approved uses of clarithromycin. See the Adult and Pediatric Opportunistic Infection Guidelines for complete information on recommended uses of clarithromycin in adults and children with HIV. Clarithromycin may have other recommended uses not listed above.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking clarithromycin?
Before taking clarithromycin, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to clarithromycin or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, including the following:
- Coronary artery disease or an irregular heartbeat, especially a problem called "QT prolongation"
- Kidney problems
- problems, including jaundice (yellowing of the skin or the whites of your eyes)
- Myasthenia gravis (a disease that causes muscle weakness)
- Low potassium or low magnesium
- About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take pills. A liquid form of clarithromycin is available for people who have difficulty swallowing pills.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Clarithromycin should not be used during pregnancy except when there are no other treatment options. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of taking clarithromycin during pregnancy. The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV may include other recommendations on the use of clarithromycin during pregnancy. Please refer to these guidelines for additional information.
- If you are breast/chestfeeding or plan to breast/chestfeed. For people with HIV in the United States, the Guideline recommends speaking with your health care provider to discuss options for feeding your baby. People with suppressed viral load have a less than 1% chance of transmitting HIV to their baby via their own milk.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products (including St. John's wort) you are taking or plan to take. Clarithromycin may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how clarithromycin works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between clarithromycin and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from clarithromycin. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take clarithromycin?
Take clarithromycin according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much clarithromycin to take and when to take it. Before you start clarithromycin and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should clarithromycin be stored?
- Store clarithromycin tablets at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). Protect the tablets from light.
- Store clarithromycin granules for oral suspension below 77ºF (25ºC). After mixing clarithromycin granules with water as instructed by your health care provider or pharmacist, do not refrigerate the mixture (also called an oral suspension). Store the oral suspension between 59ºF and 86ºF (15ºC to 30ºC) and use within 14 days.
- Keep clarithromycin in the container that it came in and keep the container tightly closed.
- Do not use clarithromycin if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away clarithromycin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep clarithromycin and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about clarithromycin?
- Recommendations on the HIV-related uses of clarithromycin, from the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV, and the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Exposed and HIV-infected Children.
- This Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Tablet; Suspension; Tablet (film-coated, extended release). The Patient Counseling Information section of the label includes information for people taking clarithromycin.
- The American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS) Patient Medication Information for clarithromycin available from MedlinePlus.
- Clarithromycin-related research studies, from . (The ClinicalTrials.gov search can be modified so that you can get results that better match your interests. To learn more about the ClinicalTrials.gov search features, please see How to Search.)
Last Reviewed: July 26, 2022