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- What is clarithromycin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for clarithromycin?
- Is clarithromycin available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for clarithromycin?
- What are the uses for clarithromycin?
- What are the side effects of clarithromycin?
- What is the dosage for clarithromycin?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with clarithromycin?
- Is clarithromycin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about clarithromycin?
What is clarithromycin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Clarithromycin is a semi-synthetic macrolide antibiotic chemically related to erythromycin and azithromycin (Zithromax). It is effective against a wide variety of bacteria, such as Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, and mycobacterium avium, and many others. Like all macrolide antibiotics, clarithromycin prevents bacteria from growing by interfering with their ability to make proteins. Due to the differences in the way proteins are made in bacteria and humans, the macrolide antibiotics do not interfere with production of proteins in humans. The FDA approved clarithromycin in October 1991.
What are the uses for clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin is effective against susceptible bacteria causing the following infections:
- middle ear,
- throat infections,
- pneumonia, and
- skin infections.
It also is used in treating infections caused by mycobacterium avium, a bacterium closely related to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Clarithromycin has been used in combination with omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate (Prilosec) in treating H. Pylori that causes stomach ulcers.
What are the side effects of clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin generally is well tolerated, and side effects usually are mild and transient. Common side effects of clarithromycin are:
- abnormal taste,
- abdominal pain and
Other important side effects which are rare, but serious include:
- liver failure,
- abnormal heart beats,
- hearing loss, and
Clarithromycin should be avoided by patients known to be allergic to clarithromycin or other chemically-related macrolide antibiotics, such as erythromycin. Treatment with clarithromycin and other antibiotics can alter the normal bacteria flora of the colon and permit overgrowth of C. difficile, a bacterium responsible for pseudomembranous colitis. Patients who develop pseudomembranous colitis as a result of antibiotics treatment may experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and sometimes even shock.
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What is the dosage for clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin may be taken with or without food. For most infections the recommended adult dose is 250-500 mg of immediate release tablets twice daily or 1000 mg of extended release tablets once daily for 7-14 days.
Which drugs or supplements interact with clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin interacts with several drugs because it reduces the activity of liver enzymes that breakdown many drugs. This leads to increased blood levels and side effects from the affected drugs. Examples of such interactions include
- olchicine (Colcrys),
- simvastatin (Zocor),
- lovastatin (Mevacor),
- atorvastatin (Lipitor),
- verapamil (Calan),
- amlodipine (Norvasc), and
- diltiazem (Carizem).
Clarithromycin increases blood levels of sildenafil (Viagra, Revatio), tadalafil (Cialis, Adcirca), vardenafil (Levitra), theophylline and carbamazepine (Tegretol), thereby increasing side effects of these drugs.
Ritonavir (Norvir) and atazanavir (Reyataz) increase blood levels of clarithromycin while efavirenz (Sustiva), nevirapine (Viramune), rifampin, decrease blood levels of clarithromycin.
Itraconazole (Sporanox) and saquinavir (Invirase) may increase blood levels of clarithromycin while clarithromycin increases blood levels or both drugs.
The occurrence of abnormal heart beats may increase when clarithromycin is combined with drugs that affect heart beat (for example, amiodarone [Coradone], quinidine [Quinidine Gluconate, Quinidine Sulfate], and disopyramide).
Is clarithromycin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Safe use of clarithromycin in pregnancy has not been established. There are no adequate studies in pregnant women.
Clarithromycin is excreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about clarithromycin?
What preparations of clarithromycin are available?
Tablets (immediate or extended release): 250 and 500 mg. Suspension: 125 or 250 mg per 5 ml (teaspoonful).
How should I keep clarithromycin stored?
Tablets and suspension should be stored at room temperature 15 -30 C (59-86 F) in a tightly closed container. The oral suspension should not be refrigerated after mixing and should be used within 14 days.
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Clarithromycin (Biaxin, Biaxin XL) is an antibiotic drug prescribed for the treatment of a large variety of bacterium. Clarithromycin is used to treat infections of the middle ear, tonsils, throat, larynx, bronchioles, lungs, and skin. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
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