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Drugs reference index «Biaxin»


Generic name: ClarithromycinBrand names: Biaxin XL, Biaxin

Why is Biaxin prescribed?

Biaxin, an antibiotic chemically related to erythromycin, is used to treat certain bacterial infections of the respiratory tract, including:

Strep throatPneumoniaSinusitis (inflamed sinuses)Tonsillitis (inflamed tonsils)Acute middle ear infectionsAcute flare-ups of chronic bronchitis (inflamed airways)

Biaxin is also prescribed to treat infections of the skin. Combined with other medications, it is used to treat ulcers near the exit from the stomach (duodenal ulcers) caused by H. pylori bacteria. It can also be prescribed to combat Mycobacterium avium infections in people with AIDS.

Biaxin is available in tablet and suspension form, and in extended-release tablets (Biaxin XL). The extended-release form is used only for sinus inflammation and flare-ups of bronchitis.

Most important fact about Biaxin

Biaxin, like any other antibiotic, works best when there is a constant amount of drug in the blood. To keep the amount constant, try not to miss any doses.

How should you take Biaxin?

You may take Biaxin suspension or tablets with or without food. Biaxin XL, however, should always be taken with food. Do not chew or crush Biaxin XL tablets. Shake Biaxin suspension before each dose and use it within 14 days.

Take the medication exactly as prescribed, and be sure to continue taking it for the full course of treatment.

  • If you miss a dose...Take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, take the one you missed and take the next one 5 to 6 hours later. Then go back to your regular schedule.
  • Storage instructions...Store at room temperature in a tightly closed container, away from light. Do not refrigerate the suspension.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any side effects develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor immediately. Only your doctor can determine whether it is safe for you to continue taking Biaxin.

  • Side effects may include:Abdominal pain, abnormal taste, diarrhea, nausea, rash, vomiting

Side effects of Biaxin XL are generally milder than those of regular Biaxin. They may include diarrhea, abnormal taste, and nausea.

Why should Biaxin not be prescribed?

Do not take Biaxin if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it, or if you are sensitive to it or erythromycin, or similar antibiotics such as azithromycin and troleandomycin. Also avoid Biaxin if you have a heart condition or an imbalance in the body's water and minerals; and do not take the drug while taking pimozide or terfenadine.

Special warnings about Biaxin

If you have severe kidney disease, the doctor may need to prescribe a smaller dose of Biaxin. Make sure the doctor is aware of any kidney problems you may have, since Biaxin could cause kidney inflammation.

Like other antibiotics, Biaxin may cause a potentially life-threatening form of diarrhea that signals a condition called pseudomembranous colitis (inflammation of the large intestine). Mild diarrhea, a fairly common Biaxin side effect, may disappear as your body gets used to the drug. However, if Biaxin gives you prolonged or severe diarrhea, stop taking the drug and call your doctor immediately.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Biaxin

If Biaxin is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either can be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Biaxin with the following:

AlprazolamBlood thinners such as warfarinBromocriptineCarbamazepineCholesterol-lowering drugs such as lovastatin and simvastatinCilostazolColchicineCyclosporineDigoxinDisopyramideErgot-based migraine drugs such as ergotamine tartrate, and methysergide,FluconazoleHexobarbitalMethylprednisoloneMidazolamPhenytoinQuinidinePimozideRifabutinRitonavirSildenafilTacrolimusTheophyllineTriazolamValproateZidovudine

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, notify your doctor immediately. Since Biaxin may have the potential to cause birth defects, it is prescribed during pregnancy only when there is no alternative. Caution is advised when using Biaxin while breastfeeding. Biaxin may appear in breast milk, as does its chemical cousin, erythromycin.

Recommended dosage



Respiratory, ear, and skin infections: Your doctor will carefully tailor your individual dosage of Biaxin depending upon the type of infection and organism causing it.

The usual dose varies from 250 to 500 milligrams every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days.

Duodenal ulcers: For ulcer treatment, Biaxin is combined with other medications. There are several dosage regimens available, and your doctor will choose the best one for you.

Mycobacterium Avium infections: For prevention or treatment, the recommended dose is 500 milligrams twice a day.


Biaxin is not recommended for children under 6 months of age.

The dose for children older than 6 months depends on how much the child weighs. Biaxin is usually given twice a day for 10 days.



Sinusitis: The usual dosage is 1000 milligrams once a day for 14 days.

Bronchitis or pneumonia: The usual dosage is 1000 milligrams once a day for 7 days.


Safety and effectiveness of Biaxin XL have not been established for children.


Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Symptoms of Biaxin overdose may include:Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
  • Biaxin Prescribing Information (FDA)
  • Biaxin Consumer Overview
  • Biaxin Advanced Consumer (Micromedex) - Includes Dosage Information
  • Biaxin MedFacts Consumer Leaflet (Wolters Kluwer)
  • Clarithromycin Prescribing Information (FDA)
  • Clarithromycin Professional Patient Advice (Wolters Kluwer)
  • Biaxin XL Extended-Release Tablets MedFacts Consumer Leaflet (Wolters Kluwer)

See Also...

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