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Oral antibiotic adverse reactions after penicillin skin testing: multi-year follow-up


Eric Macy, MD
Department of Allergy
7060 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego
CA 92111


Background: Long-term follow-up data on adverse drug reactions after oral antibiotic use in penicillin allergy history positive individuals with penicillin skin test done in advance of need are rare.

Methods: Oral antibiotic associated adverse drug reactions in 83 penicillin skin test positive individuals were compared to a sex, age, and length of follow-up matched sample of 166 penicillin skin test negative individuals, all of whom had at least one post penicillin skin test oral antibiotic. The mean post penicillin skin test follow-up interval was 34.5 ± 16.6 months. There were 1655 total oral antibiotic exposures.

Results: In penicillin skin test positive individuals, the adverse drug reaction rate was not significantly different with cephalosporin or non-beta-lactam use (P = 0.12). In penicillin skin test negative individuals the adverse drug reaction rate was significantly lower with cephalosporin vs. non-beta-lactam use (P = 0.005). Penicillin was safely used in penicillin skin test negative individuals. Overall cephalosporins caused fewer adverse drug reactions independent of penicillin skin test status (P = 0.005).

Conclusions:   Penicillin skin testing was only able to predict penicillin associated adverse drug reactions in penicillin skin test positive individuals. Excluding accidental penicillin exposure in penicillin skin test positive individuals, non-beta-lactams were associated with adverse drug reactions more often than penicillins or cephalosporins, independent of the penicillin skin test result. Cephalosporins were used as or more safely than non-beta-lactams in both penicillin skin test positive and negative individuals.