penicillin V, ampicillin, amoxicillin, piperacillin, ticarcillin, others (Unasyn, Pipracil, Ticar)

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GENERIC NAME: penicillin V, ampicillin, amoxicillin, piperacillin, ticarcillin, and others

BRAND NAME: Unasyn, Pipracil, Ticar, and Others

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Penicillins are antibiotics that are similar to penicillin. Penicillin was the first antibiotic made by scientists. 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. Since then many types of penicillins with better absorption from the intestine or activity against infections have been synthesized.

These antibiotics all have a similar mechanism of action. They do not directly kill bacteria, but they stop bacteria from multiplying by preventing bacteria from forming the walls that surround them. The walls are necessary to protect bacteria from their environment and to keep the contents of the bacterial cell together. Bacteria cannot survive without a cell wall. Penicillins are effective against many different bacteria including H. influenzae, N. gonorrhoea, E. coli, Pneumococci, Streptococci, and certain strains of Staphylococci.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/19/2014

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