Generic Name: Clarithromycin

  • What is this medication and its most common uses?

    Biaxin is an antibiotic used to treat certain bacterial infections, including bronchitis, pneumonia, and throat, sinus, skin, or ear infections. Biaxin is also used to treat and prevent Mycobacterium avium complex (a bacterial infection that is usually associated with human immunodeficiency virus infection [AIDS]). In addition, Biaxin can be used in combination with other medicines to eliminate the bacteria (known as H. pylori) that often cause stomach ulcers.

    Biaxin is available in tablets, an oral suspension, and extended-release tablets (a type of tablet that releases medicine into your body throughout the day) called Biaxin XL.

  • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

    How does this medication work?

    Biaxin works by stopping the growth of bacteria, thereby treating your infection.

    What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?


    Mycobacterium avium Complex Infection: When used for prevention, Biaxin has been shown to reduce the risk of Mycobacterium avium complex infections by 69%. Biaxin has also been shown to reduce the signs and symptoms associated with the infection, such as fever, night sweats, weight loss, and anemia.

    Ear Infection: In studies, the majority of people being treated with Biaxin were shown to be infection-free at their follow-up visit.

    H. pylori Infection: When used in combination with other medicines, Biaxin may cure this infection and reduce your risk of having an ulcer.

    When: Everyone responds differently to treatment, so try to be patient and follow your healthcare provider's directions. It is important that you take Biaxin exactly as your healthcare provider has prescribed for the full course of treatment, even if your symptoms improve earlier.

    How do I know it is working?

    You may start to notice an improvement in your symptoms. This is a good indicator that your medication is working. Your healthcare provider may ask you questions and order tests to assess how well your infection is being treated.

  • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

    The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

    Biaxin Tablets (Adults)

    More common side effects may include: diarrhea, nausea, abnormal taste, upset stomach, abdominal (stomach area) pain, headache.

    Biaxin Tablets (Children)

    More common side effects may include: diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, rash, headache.

    Biaxin XL Tablets (Adults)

    More common side effects may include: diarrhea, abnormal taste, nausea.

    Less common side effects of Biaxin may include:

    Biaxin may harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant while you are taking Biaxin.

    Liver problems with symptoms such as feeling tired or weak, loss of appetite, upper belly pain, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

    Watery and bloody stools (with or without stomach cramps and fever), even as late as two or more months after having taken the last dose of Biaxin.

  • Who should not take this medication?

    Do not take Biaxin if you are allergic to it, any of its ingredients, or to similar antibiotics (such as erythromycin).

    Do not take Biaxin if you have a history of jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes) or liver problems associated with previous clarithromycin use.

    Do not take Biaxin if you are currently taking cisapride, pimozide, astemizole, terfenadine, ergotamine, dihydroergotamine, or certain cholesterol-lowering medicines (such as lovastatin or simvastatin).

    Do not take Biaxin with colchicine if you have kidney or liver problems.

    Do not take Biaxin if you have a history of irregular heartbeats called QT prolongation or ventricular arrhythmia.

    Do not use Biaxin to treat viral infections (such as the common cold).

  • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

    Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Biaxin. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have heart, kidney, or liver problems; myasthenia gravis (a disease characterized by long-lasting fatigue and muscle weakness); or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

    Adults and children: Your healthcare provider will prescribe the appropriate dose for you or your child based on the type and severity of your infection.

  • How should I take this medication?

    Take Biaxin exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change your dose or stop taking Biaxin without first talking to your healthcare provider.

    Take Biaxin tablets and oral suspension with or without food. You can take the tablets and oral suspension with milk.

    Swallow Biaxin XL tablets whole with food. Do not chew, break, or crush Biaxin XL tablets.

    Shake Biaxin oral suspension well before each dose and discard after 14 days.

  • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

    Do not skip doses. Skipping doses or not completing the full course of Biaxin can decrease its effectiveness and can lead to the growth of bacteria that are resistant to the effects of Biaxin.

  • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

    If Biaxin is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. Biaxin may interact with numerous medications. Therefore, it is very important that you tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking.

  • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Biaxin may harm your unborn baby if taken during pregnancy. The effects of Biaxin during breastfeeding are unknown. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

    If you miss a dose of Biaxin, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

  • How should I store this medication?

    Store at room temperature.

Meet the Pharmacists

I'm Beth Isaac, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

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