clarithromycin, Biaxin

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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 brand names are available for clarithromycin?

Biaxin

Is clarithromycin available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for clarithromycin?

Yes

What are the uses for clarithromycin?

Clarithromycin is effective against susceptible bacteria causing the following 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:

Other important side effects which are rare, but serious include:

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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2016

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