Antibiotic Hazards

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These are facts about the seven most commonly abused antibiotics — their indications, the public’s known uses and the dangers.

Antibiotics are prescription drugs. Never the less in some countries like the Philippines, where drug trade is not strict these medicines can be bought over-the-counter – no prescription needed.

Here is a list of the seven most abused antibiotics – their indications, known uses to the public and the dangers.

  • Clindamycin

(Dalacin C, Clindal, Inprosyn- HP)

Clindamycin is under the Lincomycins which are sulphur containing antibiotics. Clindamycin is usually for skin and tissue infections.

Consumers particularly the minors, use Clindamycin as a pimple or acne remedy. By pouring the Clindamycin powder content into a bottle of a facial cleanser, they develop a solution for a clear skin. While most users recommend this practice as effective, some regard it as useless. A few, experienced skin allergies.

More to this, some people undergo self-medication by buying Clindamycin for throat infections which is alarming. Clindamycin is rarely used for upper respiratory tract infections. An untoward effect of this drug is Pseudomembranous colitis which can be fatal.

  • Chloramphenicol

(Biomycetin, Chloromycetin, C – Phenicol, Clocef, Harvox, Kemicetine, Pediachlor)

 Chloramphenicol is seldom indicated for urinary tract infection. It has been known as a drug of choice for typhoid fever and meningitis. However, as a broad spectrum antibiotic, Chloramphenicol is being abused as a cure for colds and fever. Sadly, this medicine can cause fatal blood dyscrasias and gray syndrome for babies.

  • Cefalexin

(Ceporex, Cefalin, Eliphorin, JT Flex, Forexine, Harvexyl, Fevenil, Cidoxine, Keflex)

Cefalexin belongs to the first generation Cephalosporins (Cefazolin, Cephradine etc.) which has as intermediate spectrum of activity. It is normally indicated for urinary tract infection and sometimes employed for upper respiratory tract infection.

Pregnant women buy this type of antibiotic for UTI. Cefalexin like most drugs can be safe to use after the first trimester of pregnancy, but for prolonged period of time, it may also result to Pseudomembranous colitis. Other seen side-effects of Cephalexin are GI disturbance and hypersensitivity reactions.

  • Erythromycin

(Elicocin, Ery-Max, Ilosone, Erycar, Romaxin)

 Like Clarithromycin, Azithromycin and Roxithromycin, Erythromycin is under the Macrolide antibiotics. It is directed for the treatment of upper respiratory, soft tissue infections and also effective against venereal disease as Syphilis and Gonorrhoea. Most people know this antibiotic as an alternative for Amoxicillin and other penicillin in cases of allergic reaction. However, a normal complaint regarding the use of Erythromycin is stomach upset and in addition, Erythromycin is also known to cause Pseudomembranous colitis.

  • Cotrimoxazole

(Bactrim, Septrim, Bacidal, Bacxal, Cotrexel)

Cotrimoxazole is a combination of a Sulfonamide – Sulfamethoxazole and a folate reductase – Trimetoprim. This combination drug is taken for urinary tract infections but can also be indicated for upper respiratory problems.

Self-medicating people enjoy the use of this antibiotic for UTI or throat infections because unlike other antibiotics, Cotrimoxazole is only to be taken twice a day. The dangers of this medication, however includes skin eruptions and the Steven Johnson syndrome.

  • Tetracycline

(Unimycin, Triocycline, Moncycline)

Tetracycline has the most broad spectrum activity. Its potential indications are numerous but have a diminished effectiveness against the natural flora of the intestines. With this, Tetracycline may aggregate the superinfections caused by the yeast, Candida albicans.

Tetracycline is directed for treatment of acne and rosacea. In the Philippines, Tetracycline has been known as a drug partner of Paracetamol. They are known as the ‘Mag-asawang gamot’, meaning ‘the drug couple’, a combination drug for fever and flu.

Prolonged use of Tetracycline may cause hepatic and liver damage. It can potentiate the anti-coagulant effect of some drugs like Warfarin. And in addition, Tetracycline can cause teeth discoloration in youngsters therefore, strictly contraindicated in children below twelve years old.

  • Amoxicillin

(Amoxil, Amusa, Axmel, Clearamox, Bactoclav, Globamox, Globapen, Natravox, Pediamox)

Amoxicillin is a semisynthetic penicillin introduced in 1974. It is similar with the broad spectrum activity of Ampicillin but with the lesser gastrointestinal disturbance. Indicated for UTI, upper and lower respiratory infection, gastro intestinal tract infection – including typhoid and para typoid, skin and tissue infection and some venereal diseases, Amoxicillin is probably the most abused antibiotic.

Most consumers buy this drug for tonsillitis, skin and for mouth infections. Contrary to the belief of most people that Amoxicillin is the safest antibiotic, its hazardous effect comprises of the Pseudomembranous colitis, Steven Johnson syndrome, anemia and anaphylaxis.

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So are you abusing some of these antibiotics?

People buy these antibiotics without seeking medical help from a registered physician solely for practicality. Instead of spending money for a doctor’s advice, they ask their friends and relatives. They mimic the antibiotics guaranteed by friends thinking if the drug went well for their friends; it will be effective for them too, minus the consultation fee.

In the Philippines, most patients keep a record of their medications. They remember those that worked best for them then, they simply repeat the prescription upon having the same ailment.

Now these are sad realities. These people may think, they have been wise, avoiding the long hours of waiting in line to see their doctor and at the same time, saving money as well. But there are always the unthinkable untoward reactions and some of these antibiotic dangers can be irreversible.


PPDr Philippine Pharmaceutical Directory Review 5th edition

MIMS On line

Wilson and Gisvold Textbook of Inorganic Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry 9th edition


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