- Stephen B Calderwood, MD
Stephen B Calderwood, MD
- Editor-in-Chief — Infectious Diseases
- Section Editor — Bacterial Infections
- Professor of Medicine (Microbiology and Immunobiology)
- Harvard Medical School
Beta-lactam antibiotics are among the most commonly prescribed drugs, grouped together based upon a shared structural feature, the beta-lactam ring. The classification, spectrum of activity and pharmacology of one group of beta-lactam antibiotics, the penicillins, will be reviewed here. The mechanisms of action and resistance and major adverse reactions of the beta-lactam antibiotics are discussed separately. (See "Beta-lactam antibiotics: Mechanisms of action and resistance and adverse effects".) The cephalosporins and other beta-lactam drugs are also discussed separately. (See "Cephalosporins" and "Combination beta-lactamase inhibitors, carbapenems, and monobactams".)
Penicillins can be classified into the following categories:
●Antistaphylococcal penicillins (nafcillin, oxacillin, cloxacillin and dicloxacillin)
●Broad spectrum penicillins: second generation (ampicillin, amoxicillin and related agents), third generation (carbenicillin and ticarcillin) and fourth generation (piperacillin)
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