Clarithromycin versus Amoxicillin alone or with Clavulanate in Acute Maxillary Sinusitis: A Meta-analysis of Clinical Trials

Daryl J. Hoban1, Jos Nauta2, *
1 Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease, Max Rady College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
2 Innovation & Development, Established Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Healthcare Products B.V., Weesp, The Netherlands

© 2021 Hoban & Nauta.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Innovation & Development, Established Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Healthcare Products B.V., C.J. van Houtenlaan 36, 1381 CP Weesp, The Netherlands; Tel: +31 (0) 294 47 7360; E-mail:



A meta-analysis was performed to explore the relative effects of clarithromycin and amoxicillin (with or without clavulanate potassium) in the treatment of acute maxillary sinusitis.


Six studies were identified in the peer-reviewed literature. All were randomized single-blind (investigator-blind) or open-label trials in outpatients diagnosed with acute maxillary sinusitis. A total of 1580 patients were enrolled, of whom 1194 were clinically evaluable.

The total daily dose of clarithromycin was 1000 mg; the total daily dose of amoxicillin (with or without clavulanate potassium) was either 1500 or 2000 mg. The duration of study drug treatment varied from 8 to 14 days. Endpoints comprised clinical and radiological success within 48 h of the end of study drug treatment plus bacteriologic cure and eradication.

Success and cure rate differences were analyzed using fixed- and random-effect models. The absence of between-study heterogeneity was tested using Cochran’s Q-test.


Clinical success rates varied between 85.8% and 97.9% for clarithromycin and between 84.2% and 96.8% for amoxicillin. The combined rate difference in clinical success rates between clarithromycin and amoxicillin was +1.9% (P=0.14). Radiological success rates (four studies) varied from 78.2% to 94.0% for clarithromycin and 79.7% to 95.0% for amoxicillin, with a combined rate difference of zero (P=1.00). Bacteriologic cure rates (four studies) were 87.1–94.6% for clarithromycin, compared with 89.8–98.1% for amoxicillin, with a combined difference in cure rates of –3.2% (P=0.16). Overall bacterial eradication rates were comparable between the two treatments (clarithromycin, 89.3%; amoxicillin, 92.1%).


These data, with their limitations properly acknowledged, identify clarithromycin as a valid and viable alternative to amoxicillin for the treatment of acute maxillary sinusitis in adults.

Keywords: Clarithromycin, Amoxicillin, Acute maxillary sinusitis, Meta-analysis, Clinical cure rate, Bacterial eradication rate.