What is this medication?
Clarithromycin/Biaxin is used on and off label for various infections depending on your common local bacterial strains for various infections and based on local resistance patterns. Not all antibiotics work for all infections and efficacy can vary from area to area and vary with time. It is common in North America for use in COPD exacerbations, endocarditis prophylaxis (off-label), H pylori eradication, community acquired pneumonia, group A streptococcal pharyngitis and various other upper respiratory infections. In many scenarios it is used as an alternative to the penicillin class when a patient has an allergy.
How does this medication work?
Clarithromycin/Biaxin binds to the 50S ribosomal subunit which blocks transpeptidation thereby inhibiting RNA-dependent protein synthesis during the amino acid chain elongation step. Without being able to produce proteins the cell eventually breaks down and dies. The 14-0H metabolite is even more active as the parent molecule for some organisms.
How should I take this medication?
Oral: 250-1000mg once or twice a day depending on the condition it is used for and the dosage form. The extended release has the same daily dosage requirements as the instant release formulation however it can all be taken at once rather than divided.
How to Take: Follow instructions provided by physician/pharmacy label, take consistently at same times each day unless otherwise directed, store at room temperature. If gastrointestinal side effects are problematic, taking with food may help reduce them. The extended release must be taken with food and must be swallowed whole.
What should I watch for while using this medication?
Before starting Clarithromycin/Biaxin make sure your physician is aware of any allergies (macrolide) or medications you currently take, if you have liver disease, kidney disease, myasthenia gravis, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding.
Clarithromycin may cause QT prolongation which can result in severe cardiac arrhythmia so caution should be taken especially if other QT prolonging agents are being taken. It is also broad spectrum (kills many kinds of bacteria) which means it can increase risk of opportunistic superinfection such as C. difficile associated diarrhea.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of medication, try to take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, take only that scheduled dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
How should I store this medication?
Keep out of the reach of children at all times. Store at room temperature, 59 to 86° F (15 to 30° C). Protect from light. Keep the container tightly closed. Properly dispose of any unused medication after the expiration date.
What are the possible side effects of using this medication?
Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, heart burn, dysgeusia (altered taste), headache, rash
Note this is not a complete list of side effects, only common ones.
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