Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Amikacin

Amikacin is a broad spectrum antibiotic that shows a remarkable lack of bacterial resistance.

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Amikacin is the active ingredient of Amikacin-Fresenius and Amikin.

General information

Amikacin is a broad spectrum antibiotic that shows a remarkable lack of bacterial resistance. Its use should therefore be limited to conditions where other antibiotics of the same class are ineffective.

This antibiotic is however not effective in treating anaerobic infections - infections occurring in the absence of oxygen - and is often combined with other antibiotics to extend its spectrum of efficacy.

Amikacin 'teams up ' favourably with penicillin antibiotics; penicillin weakens bacterial cell walls, thereby granting amikacin access into bacterial cells.

This antibiotic is poorly absorbed when taken by mouth and is generally only used as injection.

Amikacin is effective in treating infections of the lungs, urinary tract, bones and joints, soft tissue, intra-abdominal infections, meningitis and septicaemia caused by organisms sensitive to amikacin.

It is important to note that this medication is only effective against bacterial infections - if your infection is the result of a viral or fungal infection it will be ineffective.

Amikacin has a very narrow margin of safety, meaning that the toxic concentration of this drug is only slightly higher than its therapeutic dose.

The toxicity of this, and other similar antibiotics, may have severe effects on the ears - this may include permanent hearing loss, balance disturbances and/or ringing in the ears. If used by injection, use should be reserved for severe infections and patients should be monitored closely, while treatment should be for as short a period as possible.

How does amikacin work?

Amikacin is part of the aminoglycoside group of bacteria. It kills bacteria as a result of abnormal protein production in the bacterial cell - it cannot produce any of its proteins correctly - and also as a result of damage to the bacterial cell membrane.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: amikacin is available as injection

What does it do? this medication has an anti-biotic action

Overdose risk: high

Dependence risk: low

Is amikacin available as a generic? yes

Is amikacin available on prescription only? yes

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have a kidney disease
  • you have a hearing disorder
  • you have myasthenia gravis
  • you have Parkinson's disease
  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: This medication is safe to use.

Infants and children: This medication should only be used as prescribed by a paediatrician.

The elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly and a reduced dose may be needed

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

nausea and vomiting

x

x

dizziness

X

x

vertigo

x

x

hearing loss

x

x

tremors

x

x

headache

x

x

visual disturbance

x

x

skin rash/ itchy skin

x

x

ringing in the ear

x

x

bloody or cloudy urine

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

amphoterecin b

increased risk of kidney toxicity

warfarin

increased risk of bleeding

biphosphonates

increased risk of low calcium levels

vancomycin/ aminoglycoside antibiotics

increased risk of hearing loss and kidney toxicity

oral contraceptives

risk of contraceptive failure

furosemide

increased risk of hearing loss

suxamethonium

risk of respiratory depression

neostigmine/pyridostigmine

reduced effect

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have a kidney or liver disease, you have a hearing disorder, you have myasthenia gravis or if you have Parkinson's disease.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 15 mg/kg/day with a maximum dose of 1.5 g/day

Children: Only as prescribed by a paediatrician

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

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