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Effects of prophylactic antibiotics on patients with stable COPD: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Wang, Y., Zijp, T. R., Bahar, M. A., Kocks, J. W. H., Wilffert, B. & Hak, E., Dec-2018, In : Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 73, 12, p. 3231–3243

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  • Effects of prophylactic antibiotics on patients with stable COPD a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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Background: As bacterial infections provoke exacerbations, COPD patients may benefit from prophylactic antibiotics. However, evidence regarding their overall benefit-risk profile is conflicting.

Objectives: To update previous evidence and systematically evaluate the beneficial effects and side effects of prophylactic antibiotics in stable COPD patients.

Methods: Several databases were searched up to 26 April 2017 for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on prophylactic antibiotics in stable COPD patients. The primary outcomes were exacerbations and quality of life. Duration and schedule of antibiotics were considered in subgroup analyses.

Results: Twelve RCTs involving 3683 patients were included. Prophylactic antibiotics significantly reduced the frequency of exacerbations [risk ratio (RR) 0.74, 95% CI 0.60-0.92] and the number of patients with one or more exacerbations (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.74-0.90). Erythromycin and azithromycin appeared the most effective, with the number needed to treat ranging from four to seven. Quality of life was also significantly improved by prophylactic antibiotics (mean difference -1.55, 95% CI -2.59 to -0.51). Time to first exacerbation was prolonged in six studies, with one conflicting result. Neither the rate of hospitalization nor the rate of adverse events was significantly changed. Furthermore, no significant changes were observed in lung function, bacterial load and airway inflammation. However, antibiotic-resistant isolates were significantly increased (OR 4.49, 95% CI 2.48-8.12).

Conclusions: Prophylactic antibiotics were effective in preventing COPD exacerbations and improving quality of life among stable patients with moderate to severe COPD. The choice of prophylactic antibiotics should be analysed and considered case by case, especially for long and continuous use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3231–3243
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Volume73
Issue number12
Early online date4-Sep-2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2018

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