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In an open, prospective, randomised study, the clinical and bacteriological efficacy of intravenously administered clarithromycin was compared with that of amoxicillin-clavulanic acid in 112 patients with community-acquired pneumonia requiring hospitalisation. Clinical cure or improvement occurred in 86% (48/56) of the clarithromycin-treated patients and 84% (47/56) of the amoxicillin-clavulanic acid-treated patients. The rate of bacteriologie eradication was similar for the two drugs as were the rapidity of a clinical response and the rate of improvement of radiological signs. Clarithromycin had a slightly higher rate of side-effects mainly due to phlebitis caused by the intravenous treatment, but treatment could be continued in all cases. Clarithromycin should be used with caution in patients being treated with digoxin because of a significant risk of bradycardia resulting from drug interaction.