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Comparison of cefuroxime axetil and doxycycline in the treatment of early Lyme disease.

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To compare the efficacy of cefuroxime axetil and doxycycline in the treatment of patients with
Lyme disease associated with erythema migrans.


Randomized, multicenter, investigator-blinded clinical trial with clinical evaluations during treatment (8 to 12 days) and at 1 to 5 days and 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months post-treatment.


Three university referral centers and one private practice.


A total of 123 patients with physician-documented erythema migrans.


Patients were treated orally for 20 days with either cefuroxime axetil, 500 mg twice daily (63 patients), or doxycycline, 100 mg three times daily (60 patients).


Resolution of erythema migrans and of signs and symptoms related to early
Lyme disease as well as prevention of late
Lyme disease.


A satisfactory clinical outcome (success or improvement) was achieved in 51 of 55 (93%) evaluable patients treated with cefuroxime axetil and in 45 of 51 (88%) patients treated with doxycycline (difference, 5%, 95% Cl, -5% to 14%). The only complication at 1 month post-treatment was
Lyme arthritis in one patient who received doxycycline. Of the patients with satisfactory outcomes at 1 month post-treatment who were evaluable at 1 year post-treatment, a satisfactory outcome was achieved in 43 of 48 (90%) and in 35 of 38 (92%) patients treated with cefuroxime axetil and doxycycline, respectively (difference, -2%; Cl, -12% to 7%).
Lyme arthritis did not develop in any patient after 1 month post-treatment, whereas peripheral neuropathy was suspected in one patient treated with cefuroxime axetil. Thirty percent of patients treated with cefuroxime axetil and 32% of those treated with doxycycline had one or more drug-related adverse events. Doxycycline was associated with more photo-sensitivity reactions (15% compared with 0%; P = 0.001) and cefuroxime axetil with more diarrhea (21% compared with 7%; P = 0.035) and Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions (29% compared with 8%; P = 0.005).


Cefuroxime axetil is well tolerated and appears to be equally as effective as doxycycline in the treating of early
Lyme disease and in preventing the subsequent development of late
Lyme disease.

Ann Intern Med. 1992 Aug 15;117(4):273-80. Clinical Trial; Comparative Study; Multicenter Study; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t [1]