What is Chloromycetin?
Chloramphenicol (INN) is an antibiotic useful for the treatment of a number of bacterial infections. It is a bacteriostatic; it became available in 1949. It is considered a prototypical broad-spectrum antibiotic, alongside the tetracyclines, and as it is both cheap and easy to manufacture, it is frequently an antibiotic of choice in the developing world.
Chloramphenicol, also known as chlornitromycin, is effective against a wide variety of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including most anaerobic organisms. Due to resistance and safety concerns, it is no longer a first-line agent for any infection in developed nations, with the notable exception of topical treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis. Nevertheless, the global problem of advancing bacterial resistance to newer drugs has led to renewed interest in its use. In low-income countries, chloramphenicol is still widely used because it is inexpensive and readily available.
The most serious adverse effect associated with chloramphenicol treatment is bone marrow toxicity, which may occur in two distinct forms: bone marrow suppression, which is a direct toxic effect of the drug and is usually reversible, and aplastic anemia, which is idiosyncratic (rare, unpredictable, and unrelated to dose) and generally fatal.
Use of intravenous chloramphenicol has also been associated with gray baby syndrome, a phenomenon resulting from newborn infants' inability to metabolize chloramphenicol in the body. Other less serious reactions include fever, rashes, headache, and confusion. Prescription use is usually associated with monitoring of a patient's complete blood count. The drug should be discontinued upon appearance of reticulocytopenia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia, or any other abnormal blood study findings attributable to chloramphenicol.
It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, a list of the most important medications needed in a basic health system.