The antibiotic dirithromycin may be a potentially effective therapy for patients with acute exacerbations of COPD (AECOPD), according to findings from a meta-analysis of antibiotics in clinical trials.

Chinese researchers published the study, “Antibiotics for treatment of acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a network meta-analysis,” in the journal BMC Pulmonary Medicine.

Acute exacerbations (when symptoms become aggravated) are the most common cause of hospitalization and death in COPD patients, with most (80 percent) caused by infections. Half of these infections are caused by bacteria.

When an exacerbation first starts, clinicians are often unable to determine if the patient has a bacterial infection, and if so, which bacteria is causing it and what type of antibiotic should be used.