Merck Manual

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Brian J. Werth

, PharmD, University of Washington School of Pharmacy

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020
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Aminoglycosides include the following:

  • Amikacin

  • Gentamicin

  • Kanamycin

  • Neomycin

  • Plazomicin

  • Streptomycin

  • Tobramycin

Spectinomycin is chemically related to aminoglycosides and works in a similar way. It is not available in the United States.

Aminoglycosides work by preventing bacteria from producing proteins they need to grow and multiply.


These antibiotics are poorly absorbed Drug Absorption Drug absorption is the movement of a drug into the bloodstream after administration. (See also Introduction to Administration and Kinetics of Drugs.) Absorption affects bioavailability—how quickly... read more into the bloodstream when taken by mouth (orally), so they are usually injected into a vein or sometimes a muscle. In the United States, kanamycin and neomycin are available only for topical and oral use (orally they are used to decontaminate the digestive tract because they are not absorbed). These antibiotics are usually used with another antibiotic that is effective against many types of bacteria (called a broad-spectrum antibiotic).

All aminoglycosides can damage the ears and kidneys. So, if possible, doctors often choose a different type of antibiotic.

Use of Aminoglycosides During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
No US brand name
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