Who discovered penicillin?
In 1928, Alexander Fleming noted that mold belonging to the genus Penicillium inhibited the growth of bacteria. Fleming called this unknown antibacterial substance penicillin. Ten years later, a group at Oxford University began to investigate penicillin in laboratory mice. Penicillin was hailed as a miracle drug and saved countless lives in World War II.
What are pencillin antibiotics?
Penicillins are antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections that are derived from the antibiotic penicillin.
How do penicillin antibiotics work?
Penicillin antibiotics stop bacteria from multiplying by preventing bacteria from forming the walls that surround them. The walls are necessary to protect the bacteria from their environment, and to keep the contents of the bacterial cell together. Bacteria cannot survive without a cell wall. Penicillin antibiotics are most effective when bacteria are actively multiplying and forming cell walls.
What is penicillin used for?
Today, many derivatives of penicillin have been developed that inhibit more types of bacteria than the original life-saving drug. Penicillin itself is active against streptococci (including Streptococcus pneumoniae), Listeria, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Clostridium, Peptococcus, and Peptostreptococcus. However, most staphylococci now are resistant to penicillin. Other penicillin antibiotics are effective against H. influenzae, E. coli, pneumococci, certain strains of staphylococci, Salmonella, Shigella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and many other types of bacteria.
Penicillin antibiotics are used to treat many types of infections caused by susceptible bacteria. They are used to treat infections of the middle ear, sinuses, stomach and intestines, bladder, and kidney. They also are used for treating
- blood infections (sepsis),
- uncomplicated gonorrhea,
- endocarditis, and
- other serious infections.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.