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Broad-spectrum Antibiotic


Broad-spectrum antibiotic refers to an antibiotic with activity against a wide range of disease-causing bacteria. It is also means that it acts against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. This is in contrast to a narrow-spectrum antibiotic which is effective against only specific families of bacteria. A good example of a commonly used broad-spectrum antibiotic is levofloxacin.


ptr Broad-spectrum antibiotics are properly used in the following medical situations:

ptr Empirically prior to identifying the causative bacteria when there is a wide differential and potentially serious illness would result in delay of treatment. This occurs, for example, in meningitis, where the patient can become so ill that he/she could die within hours if broad-spectrum antibiotics are not initiated.

ptr For drug resistant bacteria that do not respond to other, more narrow-spectrum antibiotics.

There has been a common usage of broad-spectrum agents in treatment of community acquired infections without attempting to culture or otherwise identify the causative bacteria. Over the years, this practice has contributed to the emergence of more drug resistant strains of bacteria, necessitating the development of newer broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Ideally, the spectrum should be "narrowed down" by identifying the causative agent of an infection, and then replacing the broad-spectrum antibiotic with an appropriate narrower-spectrum antibiotic. This is believed to limit the development of antibiotic resistance, although evidence for this practice is unclear.



Co-amoxiclav is the British Approved Name, in the British Pharmacopoeia, for the combination antibiotic containing amoxicillin trihydrate, a β-lactam antibiotic, with potassium clavulanate, a β-lactamase inhibitor. This combination results in an antibiotic with an increased spectrum of action and restored efficacy against β-lactamase producing amoxicillin-resistant bacteria.

This name, unlike co-trimoxazole, has not been widely adopted internationally and the combination product is usually referred to by various names such as amoxicillin with clavulanic acid or amoxicillin+clavulanate or simply by a trade name such as 'HECLAV-625 (By Mascot) CLAMP (228.5mg, 457mg & 625mg)(FGP), Augmentin (by GlaxoSmithKline formerly Beecham), Cavumox (Thailand) Clavamox (for veterinary use by Pfizer), or Clavamel.

Side effects:

Amongst the possible side-effects of this medication are diarrhea, vomiting and a few other conditions. These do not usually require medical attention. However, if the patient experiences an allergic reaction to the medication, jaundice, fever or severe diarrhea, it is necessary to contact a doctor immediately. As with all antimicrobial agents, pseudomembranous colitis has been associated with the use of amoxicillin-clavulanate. Amoxicillin is a member of the penicillin family of antibiotics, and therefore should not be taken by patients allergic to penicillin.