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Otitis media is a common infection of childhood. Increasing antibiotic resistance rates among the principal causative pathogens, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, are associated with failure of first line agents.This open, randomized, multicenter study compared the clinical efficacy of a short 5-day course of cefuroxime axetil (CAE) suspension with that of amoxicillin/clavulanate (A/CA) suspension for 8 or 10 days.Children age 6 to 36 months with acute otitis media with effusion, diagnosed by tympanocentesis and microbiologic culture, were randomized to receive CAE (30 mg/kg/day in two divided doses for 5 days) or A/CA 40 mg/kg/day in three divided doses for 10 days (A/CA-10). In French centers A/CA was given at 80 mg/kg/day in three divided doses for 8 days (A/CA-8). Patients were assessed 1 to 4 days after completing the course (posttreatment) and followed up at 21 to 28 days after completing the course.Of the 716 patients randomized, 252 were treated with CAE, 255 with A/CA-10 and 209 with A/CA-8. In the clinically evaluable population, the proportions of patients with clinical cure at posttreatment were 175 of 203 (86%), 181 of 205 (88%) and 145 of 164 (88%) in the CAE, A/CA-10 and A/CA-8 groups, respectively, demonstrating equivalence among the three treatments. For patients <18 months old, clinical cures were 111 of 134 (83%), 116 of 131 (89%) and 83 of 99 (84%) in the CAE, A/CA-10 and A/CA-8 groups, respectively; equivalence was also demonstrated. At follow-up, 130 of 175 (74%) CAE, 121 of 172 (70%) A/CA-10, and 112 of 142 (79%) A/CA-8 had maintained cure. A total of 837 pretreatment pathogens were isolated from middle ear fluid in 73% (522 of 716) patients, the majority of isolates were S. pneumoniae (30%) and H. influenzae (27%). The most common adverse events were gastrointestinal, the incidence of drug-related diarrhea being higher in the A/CA-10 group (18%) than in either the CAE or A/CA-8 groups (10%).A 5-day course of CAE, given twice daily, was shown to be equivalent to the two regimens of A/CA for treatment of acute otitis media with effusion in children.