Augmentin is an antibiotic medication that is available by prescription. It can be used to treat a number of different bacterial infections. The drug, which comes in tablets, chewable tablets, and a liquid form, is generally taken every 8 or 12 hours (depending on the particular product and dosage). Potential side effects of Augmentin include rashes or itching, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Brand-name Augmentin is made by GlaxoSmithKline. Generic Augmentin is made by several different manufacturers.
How Does It Work?
Augmentin contains two different medications: amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium (also known as clavulanic acid or simply clavulanate). It belongs to a group of medications known as aminopenicillins, which is part of a larger group of medications known as beta-lactam antibiotics (named after the ring-like "lactam" structure of these antibiotics). Amoxicillin works by stopping bacteria from making cell walls, which eventually causes the bacteria to die. However, many bacteria have developed resistance to amoxicillin and similar antibiotics by producing enzymes called beta-lactamases. Beta-lactamases break the beta-lactam ring, making amoxicillin and similar antibiotics ineffective.
The other component of Augmentin (clavulanate) is known as a beta-lactamase inhibitor. Clavulanate binds to bacterial beta-lactamase and stops the enzymes from breaking down the amoxicillin molecule. Clavulanate itself has no significant antibacterial activity; it merely helps to prevent amoxicillin from being broken down by bacteria that would otherwise be resistant to it. Essentially, clavulanate "augments" the activity of amoxicillin (hence the name Augmentin).
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Augmentin [package insert]. Bridgewater, NJ: Dr. Reddy's Laboratories;2013 January.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed May 14, 2010.
Red Book: Pharmacy's Fundamental Reference. 2007 ed. Montvale (NJ): Thomson Healthcare; 2007.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed September 20, 2007.
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