2011 MJA/Pfizer Australia Award


AMA National Conference 2011

The Medical Journal of Australia/Pfizer Australia award for the best original research published in the MJA was today awarded to a research paper that compared the effectiveness of two antibiotic regimens for the treatment of acute middle ear infection in Aboriginal children.

The paper – authored by a team of researchers from the Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Flinders University and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney – was published in the 4 January 2010 edition of the MJA.

The authors – Peter S Morris, Gaudencio Gadil, Gabrielle B McCallum, Cate A Wilson, Heidi C Smith-Vaughan, Peter Torzillo and Amanda J Leach – set out to compare the clinical effectiveness of a single dose of azithromycin with a standard seven-day treatment course of amoxicillin for the treatment of acute otitis media (AOM).

Between March 2003 and July 2005, they studied 306 Aboriginal children with AOM aged six months to six years in 16 rural and remote communities in the Northern Territory.

In what is believed to be the first randomised controlled trial of antibiotic treatment of AOM in a population with high rates of acute and chronic tympanic membrane perforation (ruptured eardrum), the results provide evidence that antibiotics that eradicate otitis media pathogens and reduce bacterial load in the nasopharynx are needed for successful treatment of AOM.

The research has important implications for health outcomes in Aboriginal children, who are prone to frequent and severe episodes of AOM. 

The authors say the finding of better clinical outcomes with pathogen clearance and the greater impact of azithromycin on reducing nasal carriage of bacteria suggests that clinical trials of longer courses of azithromycin treatment are needed, as well as trials examining the potential benefits of azithromycin for the treatment of other important child health problems, such as skin sores, runny nose and trachoma.


27 May 2011

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