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Telithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic that has been marketed since the early 2000s. It has not been shown to be more effective against any bacteria than other macrolide antibiotics. Its antibacterial activity is in no way remarkable. In early 2014, we reviewed its adverse effect profile using data from periodic safety update reports, drug regulatory agencies, and detailed published case reports. In addition to the adverse effect profile telithromycin shares with the other macrolides, it provokes several specific adverse effects: visual disturbances due to impaired accommodation; taste and smell disorders; severe liver damage; worsening of myasthenia gravis; rhabdomyolysis; and loss of consciousness. Prolongation of the QT interval with standard oral doses is a worrisome adverse effect. In practice, it is better not to use telithromycin as it exposes patients to disproportionate, serious adverse effects. When treatment with a macrolide antibiotic appears necessary, it is prudent to choose a different macrolide, such as spiramycin or azithromycin, which have fewer adverse effects.


Telithromycin: review of adverse effects. Prescrire international. 2014 Nov;23(154):264-6

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PMID: 25954793

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