What Is Vancomycin Hydrochloride Used For?

Vancomycin Hydrochloride Chemical Structure
Vancomycin HCl Chemical Structure

Is Vancomycin A Penicillin?

Vancomycin HCl is an ancient antibiotic used widely for some serious infection conditions.

It is mainly made into injections to get quick effects.

Many people will think it is penicillin, similar to penicillin, is it?

As we mentioned earlier, vancomycin is a polypeptide with a huge molecular weight of 1485.71g/mol.

It was developed to treat patients with infections allergic or non-reactive to penicillins.

Penicillin is an antibiotic extracted from Penicillium, and later it refers to a class of antibiotics that contains penicillin in its molecule, which can destroy the cell wall of bacteria and play a bactericidal role during the reproduction period of bacterial cells.

Penicillin belongs to β-lactam antibiotics, which include penicillin, cephalosporins, carbapenems, monocyclics, cephalosporins, etc.

Though penicillin is a very commonly used antibacterial drug, an intradermal test must be performed to prevent allergy.

The penicillin category is below:

#1. Penicillin G class:

Such as penicillin G potassium, penicillin G sodium, long-acting cillins, etc.

#2. Semi-synthetic penicillins

2.1 Acid-resistant penicillin Penicillin V

2.2 Enzyme-resistant penicillins:

Such as benzathine penicillin (Neosporin II), chlorazolyl penicillin, etc.

2.3 Broad-spectrum penicillins:

Such as ampicillin, hydroxyampicillin (amoxicillin), etc.

2.4 Broad-spectrum penicillins against Pseudomonas aeruginosa:

Such as carbenzylpenicillin, oxybenzyl penicillin, furobenzylpenicillin, etc.

2.5 Azamethicillin (anti-Gram-negative bacillus penicillin):

Such as methicillin and its ester penicillin, etc., which is characterized as more enzyme-resistant and effective against certain negative bacilli (e.g., Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, and Salmonella), but poor against Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

By comparison, we can conclude that vancomycin is not penicillin but a polypeptide antibiotic to treat infections in some extreme cases.

What Is Vancomycin Hydrochloride Used For?​
Penicillin Chemical Stucture

How Is Vancomycin Hydrochloride Used Clinically?

Clinically the original purpose of developing vancomycin was to treat patients with infections caused by penicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and patients who are allergic to penicillins.

For several reasons below, vancomycin has never been the first-line drug for the treatment of Staphylococcus aureus infections:

#1. Vancomycin is only administered intravenously because it will not be absorbed orally.

That’s why you see it is oral formulations but only injections.

#2. The rapid development of β-lactamase-resistant semisynthetic penicillins.

Penicillins such as methotrexate penicillin (and its successors such as etanercept (amine) penicillin, o-chloramphenicol, etc.) can effectively inhibit penicillin-resistant bacteria, therefore, it doesn’t leave much room for further development of vancomycin.

#3. If the vancomycin is not very pure, it is highly ototoxic and nephrotoxic.

These three findings above led to the downgrading of vancomycin as a “last line” anti-infective drug.

Vancomycin HCl has been considered the Last Resort Remedy means it is only recommended when all other antibiotics are not effective for these infections anymore.

You can use vancomycin to treat serious, life-threatening infections by Gram-positive bacteria unresponsive to other antibiotics such as sepsis and lower respiratory tract, skin, and bone infections.

It has been used to treat many life-threatening infections in the form of intravenous injections.

Those life-threatening infections include complicated skin infections, bloodstream infections, endocarditis, bone, and joint infections, and meningitis caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

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