29 May 2012

Second antibiotic offered to treat whooping cough

8:14 pm on 29 May 2012

The Government's drug-buying agency says it will fund an extra antibiotic to treat and prevent whooping cough in children aged under one.

Pharmac says it will fund azithromycin from June this year because of growing concern about rates of whooping cough (also known as pertussis), including from its own clinical advisers and the Ministry of Health.

It says the current antibiotic is erythromycin, which can cause side-effects in young babies.

The drug will be available either to treat babies who have whooping cough, or as a preventative for babies exposed to whooping cough from other family members.

Pharmac says the cost is about $15,000 over five years, but it expects this to be more than offset by reduced hospital admissions.