Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Vancomycin

Vancomycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

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Vancomycin is the active ingredient of Aspen Vancomycin, Vancocin and Vancomycin-Faulding.

General information

Vancomycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic drug indicated for penicillin-allergic patients who cannot receive, or who have failed to respond to penicillin or cephalosporin-antibiotics, and for infections caused by vancomycin-sensitive organisms that are resistant to other antimicrobial drugs .

It is effectively applied in the treatment of septicaemia, endocarditis (a bacterial infection of the heart lining), lower respiratory tract, bone and joint, and skin, soft tissue and wound infections caused by organisms that are sensitive to Vancomycin.

The use of this antibiotic is reserved for hospital use only.

To reduce the development of drug-resistant bacteria and maintain the effectiveness of vancomycin and other antibacterial drugs, vancomycin should be used only to treat or prevent infections that are proven or strongly suspected to be caused by bacteria.

Hearing loss has occurred in patients receiving vancomycin. It may be transient or permanent. It has been reported mostly in patients who have been given excessive doses, who have an underlying hearing loss, or who are receiving concomitant therapy with another ototoxic agent - drugs that may cause hearing loss include aminoglycoside antibiotics.

How does vancomycin work?

It works by interfering with bacterial ability to form cell walls, and therefore the bacteria break up and die.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: vancomycin is available as injection

What does it do? Vancomycin has an antibiotic action.

Overdose risk: medium

Dependence risk: low

Is vancomycin available as a generic? yes

Is vancomycin available on prescription only? yes

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you are allergic to any antibiotics
  • you have any history of or existing hearing abnormalities
  • you have kidney disease
  • you are taking any 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 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

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

nausea/vomiting

x

x

diarrhoea

x

x

difficulty breathing/ swallowing

x

x

sin rash/itch

x

x

headache/dizziness

x

x

fever/chills

x

x

palpitations

x

x

flushing of upper body

x

x

pain/ inflammation at site of injection

x

x

hearing loss/ ringing in ears

x

x

bloody/cloudy urine

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

warfarin

increased risk of bleeding

diuretics

increased risk of toxicity

drugs that may affect hearing or kidney function

increased risk of hearing loss or kidney damage

suxamethonium

prolonged effect of suxamethonium

zidovudine

marked drop in number of white blood cells

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you are allergic to any antibiotics, have any hearing disorders. or if you have kidney disease.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 2 g/day in 2 - 4 divided doses.

Children: only as prescribed by a paediatrician.

 

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