THE USE OF DRUGS OF THE TETRACYCLINE CLASS DURING TOOTH DEVELOPMENT (LAST HALF OF PREGNANCY, INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD TO THE AGE OF 8 YEARS) MAY CAUSE PERMANENT DISCOLORATION OF THE TEETH (YELLOW - GRAY - BROWN). This adverse reaction is more common during long-term use of the drugs but has been observed following repeated short-term courses. Enamel hypoplasia has also been reported. TETRACYCLINE DRUGS, THEREFORE, SHOULD NOT BE USED IN THIS AGE GROUP UNLESS OTHER DRUGS ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE EFFECTIVE OR ARE CONTRAINDICATED.
All tetracyclines form a stable calcium complex in any bone forming tissue. A decrease in fibula growth rate has been observed in premature infants given oral tetracycline in doses of 25 mg/kg every six hours. This reaction was shown to be reversible when the drug was discontinued.
Results of animal studies indicate that tetracyclines cross the placenta, are found in fetal tissues and can have toxic effects on the developing fetus (often related to retardation of skeletal development). Evidence of embryotoxicity has also been noted in animals treated early in pregnancy. If this drug is used during pregnancy or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus. Tetracycline drugs should not be used during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary.
If renal impairment exists, even usual oral or parenteral doses may lead to excessive systemic accumulation of the drug and possible liver toxicity. Under such conditions, lower than usual total doses are indicated, and, if therapy is prolonged, serum level determinations of the drug may be advisable.
Photosensitivity manifested by an exaggerated sunburn reaction has been observed in some individuals taking tetracyclines. Patients apt to be exposed to direct sunlight or ultraviolet light should be advised that this reaction can occur with tetracycline drugs. Treatment should be discontinued at the first evidence of skin erythema.
The antianabolic action of the tetracyclines may cause an increase in BUN. While this is not a problem in those with normal renal function, in patients with significantly impaired renal function, higher serum levels of tetracycline may lead to azotemia, hyperphosphatemia and acidosis.
As with other antibiotics, use of this drug may result in overgrowth of nonsusceptible organisms, including fungi. If superinfection occurs, the antibiotic should be discontinued and appropriate therapy should be instituted.
All infections due to Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci should be treated for at least ten days.
Bulging fontanels in infants and benign intracranial hypertension in adults have been reported in individuals receiving tetracyclines. These conditions disappeared when the drug was discontinued.
Incision and drainage or other surgical procedures should be performed in conjunction with antibiotic therapy, when indicated.
Prescribing tetracycline in the absence of proven or strongly suspected bacterial infection or a prophylactic indication is unlikely to provide benefit to the patient and increases the risk of the development of drug-resistant bacteria.
Information for Patients
Patients should be counseled that antibacterial drugs including tetracycline should only be used to treat bacterial infections. They do not treat viral infections (e.g., the common cold). When tetracycline is prescribed to treat a bacterial infection, patients should be told that although it is common to feel better early in the course of therapy, the medication should be taken exactly as directed. Skipping doses or not completing the full course of therapy may (1) decrease the effectiveness of the immediate treatment and (2) increase the likelihood that bacteria will develop resistance and will not be treatable by tetracycline or other antibacterial drugs in the future.
In venereal diseases, when coexistent syphilis is suspected, dark field examinations should be done before treatment is started and the blood serology repeated monthly for at least four months.
In long-term therapy, periodic laboratory evaluation of organ systems, including hematopoietic, renal and hepatic studies, should be performed.
Since bacteriostatic drugs may interfere with the bactericidal action of penicillin, it is advisable to avoid giving tetracycline in conjunction with penicillin or other bactericidal antibiotics.
Because the tetracyclines have been shown to depress plasma prothrombin activity, patients who are on anticoagulant therapy may require downward adjustment of their anticoagulant dosage.
The concurrent use of tetracycline and methoxyflurane has been reported to result in fatal renal toxicity.
Absorption of tetracyclines is impaired by antacids containing aluminum, calcium or magnesium and preparations containing iron, zinc, or sodium bicarbonate.
Concurrent use of tetracycline may render oral contraceptives less effective.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility
Long-term animal studies are currently being conducted to determine whether tetracycline hydrochloride has carcinogenic potential. Some related antibiotics (oxytetracycline, minocycline) have shown evidence of oncogenic activity in rats.
In two in vitro mammalian cell assay systems (L 51784y mouse Iymphoma and Chinese hamster lung cells), there was evidence of mutagenicity at tetracycline hydrochloride concentrations of 60 and 10 mcg/mL, respectively.
Tetracycline hydrochloride had no effect on fertility when administered in the diet to male and female rats at a daily intake of 25 times the human dose.
Pregnancy Category D
Pregnant women with renal disease may be more prone to develop tetracycline-associated liver failure.
Labor and Delivery
The effect of tetracyclines on labor and delivery is unknown.
Because of the potential for serious adverse reaction in nursing infants from tetracyclines, a decision should be made whether to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother (see WARNINGS).
See WARNINGS and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION.