Sounds like 'rox-ZITH-roe-MYE-sin'

Roxithromycin is an antibiotic used to treat different infections caused by bacteria. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.

What is roxithromycin?

Roxithromycin is an antibiotic used to treat infections such as infections of the chest, tonsils, skin or genitals. It works by killing or stopping the growth of bacteria (bugs). Like all antibiotics, roxithromycin is not effective against infections caused by viruses.


In New Zealand, roxithromycin is available as tablets (150 mg and 300 mg). 

  • The dose of roxithromycin will be different for different people depending on the type of infection.
  • The usual dose in adults is 300 mg once a day OR 150 mg twice a day.
  • Your doctor will advise you how long to take roxithromycin for (usually 5 to 10 days).
  • Always take your roxithromycin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take roxithromycin 

  • Timing of your dose: Roxithromycin is best taken on an empty stomach, about 15 minutes before food or 3 hours after food. If it makes you feel sick, then take it with food. Take roxithromycin at the same time each day. Swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water.
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Don't take double the dose.

Things to consider while you are taking roxithromycin

  • Roxithromycin doesn't have a direct interaction with alcohol. This means that most people could have the occasional drink while taking it without any serious problems. However, if roxithromycin makes you feel sick (nausea), don't drink alcohol as it will make you feel worse.
  • If you are taking the contraceptive pill, you don't usually need to use additional contraception if you're taking roxithromycin. But if the antibiotic or the illness they're treating cause diarrhoea or vomiting, lasting more than 24 hours, absorption of the contraceptive pill may be affected. If this happens, ask your prescriber for advice about contraception over the following few days.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, roxithromycin can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting
  • Take roxithromycin with food.
  • Diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • This may go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if it bothers you.
  • Vaginal itching, soreness or discharge (thrush)
Tell your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Dizziness
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Fainting
  • Changes in your heartbeat (fast or irregular)
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116. 
  • Signs of problems with your liver such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in the abdomen
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116. 
  • Allergic reaction such as skin rash, itching, swelling of the lips, face, and mouth or difficulty breathing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116. 
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet Arrow-Roxithromycin 
New Zealand Formulary Patient Information roxithromycin


  1. Roxithromycin New Zealand Formulary
  2. Roxithromycin New Zealand Formulary for Children

Clinical resources

Arrow-roxithromycin Medsafe, NZ
Drug-induced qt prolongation and torsades de pointes Medsafe, NZ, 2010
Upfront – antimicrobial resistance in NZ – what is my role in primary care? BPAC, NZ, 2013
Antibiotic awareness week – a time to reflect on how we prescribe BPAC, NZ, 2017
Antibiotics guide – choices for common infections BPAC, NZ, 2017

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 26 Sep 2022