Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Neomycin

Neomycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic far too toxic for systemic use.

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Neomycin is one of multiple active ingredients found in Betnesol-N, Betnovate, Cicatrin, Covomycin, Covomycin-D, FML-Neo, Kenacomb, Maxitrol, Naseptin, Neo-Medrol, Neoderm, Otosporin, Synalar N, and Vibrocil.

General information

Neomycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic far too toxic for systemic use. Its use should therefore be limited to treating topical infections of the skin, eye, nose and ear caused by neomycin-sensitive organisms.

Neomycin is 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.

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.

Antibiotic resistance - when bacteria develop the ability to defend themselves against the effect of an antibiotic - occurs frequently with many antibiotics. The most common causes for this is when patients do not complete the prescribed course in full, allowing bacteria to recover from treatment, and by using antibiotics for non-bacterial infections, such as cold and flu.

How does neomycin work?

Neomycin 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: neomycin is available in combination products only.

What does it do? This medication has an antibiotic action.

Overdose risk: medium

Dependence risk: low

Is neomycin available as a generic? yes

Is neomycin available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect : it may take a few days for the full beneficial effect to be reached.

Duration of action: up to 12 hours.

Stopping this medicine: do not stop taking this medication until you have finished the course as prescribed by your doctor - infection may recur with premature discontinuation.

Prolonged use: neomycin is usually given only for short courses of treatment.

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

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

Porphyria: t his medication is safe for 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

Local irritation and burning may occur with topical use. Systemic reactions, although rare, may include:

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 ears

x

x

bloody or cloudy urine

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

Interactions with topical use are rare. If absorbed systemically - although rare - the following interactions may occur:

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

This depends on each product used.

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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