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Moderate-spectrum Antibiotic


Amoxicillin (INN), formerly amoxycillin (BAN), is a moderate-spectrum, bacteriolytic, β-lactam antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections caused by susceptible microorganisms. It is usually the drug of choice within the class because it is better absorbed, following oral administration, than other β-lactam antibiotics.

Amoxicillin is susceptible to degradation by β-lactamase-producing bacteria, and so may be given with clavulanic acid to decrease its susceptibility.


Fig: Amoxicillin


Amoxicillin in trihydrate form is available as capsules, chewable and dispersable tablets plus syrup and pediatric suspension for oral use, and as the sodium salt for intravenous administration. It is one of the most common antibiotics prescribed for children, and the liquid forms are helpful where the patient might find it difficult to take tablets or capsules. It has three ionizable groups. A once daily dosing form (Moxatag) was approved by the American FDA in January 2008.


Ampicillin is a beta-lactam antibiotic that has been used extensively to treat bacterial infections since 1961. It is considered part of the aminopenicillin family and is roughly equivalent to amoxicillin in terms of spectrum and level of activity. It can sometimes result in non-allergic reactions that range in severity from a rash (e.g. patients with mononucleosis) to potentially lethal anaphylaxis.


Fig: Ampicillin.


Ampicillin is closely related to amoxicillin, another type of penicillin, and both are used to treat urinary tract infections, otitis media, uncomplicated community-acquired pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae, salmonellosis and Listeria meningitis. It is used with flucloxacillin in the combination antibiotic co-fluampicil for empiric treatment of cellulitis; providing cover against Group A streptococcal infection whilst the flucloxacillin acts against the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. Of concern is the number of bacteria that become resistant to Ampicillin necessitating combination therapy or use of other antibiotics.

All Pseudomonas and most strains of Klebsiella and Aerobacter are considered resistant.

Use in research

Ampicillin is often used as a selective agent in molecular biology to confirm the uptake of genes (e.g., of plasmids) by bacteria (e.g., E. coli). A gene that is to be inserted into a bacterium is coupled to a gene coding for an ampicillin resistance (in E. coli, usually the bla (TEM-1) gene, coding for β-lactamase). The treated bacteria are then grown in a medium containing ampicillin (50-100mg/L). Only the bacteria that successfully take up the desired genes become ampicillin resistant, and therefore contain the other desired gene as well. It can be used with Cloaxicillin as well. As a powder ampicillin is white with slight yellow cast and is soluble in water (150mg/ml).