Clarithromycin is first metabolized to 14-OH clarithromycin, which is active and works synergistically with its parent compound. Like other macrolides, it then penetrates bacteria cell wall and reversibly binds to domain V of the 23S ribosomal RNA of the 50S subunit of the bacterial ribosome, blocking translocation of aminoacyl transfer-RNA and polypeptide synthesis. Clarithromycin also inhibits the hepatic microsomal CYP3A4 isoenzyme and P-glycoprotein, an energy-dependent drug efflux pump.
Clarithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic whose spectrum of activity includes many gram-positive (Staphylococcus aureus, S. pneumoniae, and S. pyogenes) and gram-negative aerobic bacteria (Haemophilus influenzae, H. parainfluenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis), many anaerobic bacteria, some mycobacteria, and some other organisms including Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, Chlamydia, Toxoplasma, and Borrelia. Other aerobic bacteria that clarithromycin has activity against include C. pneumoniae and M. pneumoniae. Clarithromycin has an in-vitro activity that is similar or greater than that of erythromycin against erythromycin-susceptible organisms. Clarithromycin is usually bacteriostatic, but may be bactericidal depending on the organism and the drug concentration.
Hepatic - predominantly metabolized by CYP3A4 resulting in numerous drug interactions.
Symptoms of toxicity include diarrhea, nausea, abnormal taste, dyspepsia, and abdominal discomfort. Transient hearing loss with high doses has been observed. Pseudomembraneous colitis has been reported with clarithromycin use. Allergic reactions ranging from urticaria and mild skin eruptions to rare cases of anaphylaxis and Stevens-Johnson syndrome have also occurred. Rare cases of severe hepatic dysfunctions also have been reported. Hepatic failure is usually reversible, but fatalities have been reported. Clarithromycin may also cause tooth decolouration which may be removed by dental cleaning. Fetal abnormalities, such as cardiovascular defects, cleft palate and fetal growth retardation, have been observed in animals. Clarithromycin may cause QT prolongation.