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Chloramphenicol ˌklōr-ˌam-ˈfen-i-ˌkȯl, ˌklȯr-, -ˌkōl

By Hans P. Schlecht, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine ; Christopher Bruno, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine

The antibiotic chloramphenicol is used mainly to treat serious infections due to the few bacteria that are resistant to other antibiotics but are still susceptible to chloramphenicol. Its use is limited because it interferes with the production of blood cells in bone marrow, greatly reducing the number of blood cells (blood cell counts).

Chloramphenicol works by interfering with the bacteria's production of the genetic material and proteins needed to grow and multiply.


Common Uses

Some Side Effects

Typhoid and other salmonellal infections

Rarely, a severe decrease in blood cell counts (and thus, this drug is used only if no safer drugs are available)

Use of Chloramphenicol During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Chloramphenicol should be used during pregnancy only when the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks. Chloramphenicol may cause gray baby syndrome, a serious and often fatal reaction to the drug.

Use of chloramphenicol during breastfeeding is not recommended.

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