(HealthDay News) – For patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) hospitalized for a respiratory-related event, administration of azithromycin is associated with a prolonged time to next respiratory hospitalization, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, held from May 17–22 in Philadelphia.

Noting that azithromycin administration for one year reduces the risk of acute COPD exacerbations, Fernando J. Martinez, MD, from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, and colleagues investigated the potential benefit of chronic azithromycin therapy for COPD patients who have been hospitalized for a respiratory-related event. Participants with COPD and with a history of acute exacerbations of COPD in the past 12 months or using supplemental oxygen at enrollment were randomized to 250mg azithromycin daily or placebo for one year.

The researchers found that, compared with placebo-treated patients, for azithromycin-treated patients, there was a significant prolongation in the time to next respiratory hospitalization (hazard ratio, 0.58). The event prolongation was seen about 40 days after discharge. Compared with placebo-treated patients, azithromycin-treated patients had a trend toward prolongation for the next all-cause hospitalization following the first respiratory-related hospitalization.

“When comparing patients treated with azithromycin and those who received placebo, we found that there was a significant delay from the first respiratory-related hospitalization to the next one among those treated with azithromycin,” Martinez said in a statement.

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