Chloramphenicol

Pronunciation

Generic Name: chloramphenicol (klor-am-FEN-i-kole)
Brand Name: Generic only. No brands available.

Chloramphenicol has caused severe and sometimes fatal blood problems (eg, anemia, low blood platelets, low white blood cell counts). Leukemia has also been reported after use of chloramphenicol. Blood problems have occurred after both short-term and long-term use of chloramphenicol. Do not use chloramphenicol if safer, effective medicines can be used. Do not use chloramphenicol to treat or prevent simple infections (eg, cold, flu, throat infections). Lab tests, such as complete blood cell counts, will be done to check for side effects. You may need to be hospitalized while you are using chloramphenicol so that appropriate lab work can be performed.


Chloramphenicol is used for:

Treating serious infections caused by certain bacteria.

Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic. It works by killing or slowing the growth of sensitive bacteria.

Do NOT use chloramphenicol if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in chloramphenicol
  • you have previously had serious side effects from chloramphenicol
  • you have a low white or red blood cell count or decreased blood platelets
  • you have a minor infection such as a cold, flu, throat infection, or you are using chloramphenicol to prevent a bacterial infection
  • you are taking other medicines that may decrease your bone marrow (eg, cancer chemotherapy); check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your other medicines may decrease your bone marrow

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: The Shocking Truth About Antibiotic Resistance

Before using chloramphenicol:

Some medical conditions may interact with chloramphenicol. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have anemia, bone marrow problems, liver disease, or kidney problems

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with chloramphenicol. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) because side effects, including risk of bleeding, may be increased
  • Hydantoins (eg, phenytoin) or sulfonylureas (eg, glyburide) because the actions and side effects of these medicines may be increased.
  • Medicines that may decrease your bone marrow (eg, cancer chemotherapy) because the risk of serious side effects, such as low blood platelet levels and low white blood cell counts, may be increased; check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your medicines may decrease your bone marrow

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if chloramphenicol may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use chloramphenicol:

Use chloramphenicol as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Chloramphenicol is usually administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you are using chloramphenicol at home, carefully follow the injection procedures taught to you by your health care provider.
  • If chloramphenicol contains particles or is discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged in any way, do not use it.
  • To clear up your infection completely, continue using chloramphenicol for the full course of treatment even if you feel better in a few days.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Dispose of properly after use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain local regulations for proper disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of chloramphenicol, use it as soon as possible. Then use your doses at evenly spaced times as directed by your doctor. Do not use 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use chloramphenicol.

Important safety information:

  • Do not exceed the recommended dose or use chloramphenicol for longer than prescribed without checking with your doctor.
  • Chloramphenicol is effective only against bacteria. It is not effective for treating viral infections (eg, the common cold).
  • It is important to use chloramphenicol for the full course of treatment. Failure to do so may decrease the effectiveness of chloramphenicol and increase the risk that the bacteria will no longer be sensitive to chloramphenicol and will not be able to be treated by this or certain other antibiotics in the future.
  • Long-term or repeated use of chloramphenicol may cause a second infection. Your doctor may want to change your medicine to treat the second infection. Contact your doctor if signs of a second infection occur.
  • If symptoms of "gray syndrome" (swelling of the abdomen, pale or blue skin color, vomiting, shock, difficulty breathing, refusal to suck, loose green stools, limp muscles, low temperature) occur in a newborn or infant, contact your doctor. Death may occur within hours of the onset of symptoms. Stopping use of chloramphenicol when symptoms first appear increases the chance for a complete recovery.
  • Chloramphenicol may lower your body's ability to fight infection. Prevent infection by avoiding contact with people with colds or other infections. Notify your doctor of any signs of infection, including fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Chloramphenicol may reduce the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your blood. To prevent bleeding, avoid situations in which bruising or injury may occur. Report any unusual bleeding, bruising, blood in stools, or dark, tarry stools to your doctor.
  • Diabetes patients - Chloramphenicol may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely and ask your doctor before adjusting the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • LAB TESTS, including complete blood cell counts, may be performed to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use chloramphenicol with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 1 year of age. Safety and effectiveness in this age group have not been confirmed.
  • Use chloramphenicol with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 10 years of age who have diarrhea or a stomach or bowel infection.
  • Use chloramphenicol with extreme caution in premature and full-term INFANTS because they may be more sensitive to the effects of chloramphenicol, especially the risk of "gray syndrome."
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant while taking chloramphenicol, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using chloramphenicol during pregnancy. Chloramphenicol should be used with extreme caution during full-term pregnancy and labor because the fetus may experience severe side effects. Chloramphenicol is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking chloramphenicol.

Possible side effects of chloramphenicol:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Mild diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); confusion; dark urine; delirium; depression; headache; fever, chills, or sore throat; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; symptoms of "gray syndrome" in an infant (swelling of the abdomen, pale or blue skin color, vomiting, shock, difficulty breathing, refusal to suck, loose green stools, limp muscles, low temperature); unusual bleeding or bruising; unusual tiredness; vision changes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of chloramphenicol:

Chloramphenicol is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using chloramphenicol at home, store chloramphenicol as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Keep chloramphenicol out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about chloramphenicol, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Chloramphenicol is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take chloramphenicol or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about chloramphenicol. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to chloramphenicol. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using chloramphenicol.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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