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Drug Profile

The information on this site is intended to supplement and enhance, not replace, the advice of a physician who is familiar with your medical history. Decisions about your health should always be made ONLY after detailed conversation with your doctor.

Limited Use [what does this mean?]
Generic drug name: clindamycin (klin da MYE sin)
Brand name(s): CLEOCIN
GENERIC: available FAMILY: Other Drugs for Bacterial Infection
Find the drug label by searching at DailyMed.

Pregnancy and Breast-feeding Warnings [top]

Pregnancy Warning

No valid data are available for clindamycin, as it was not tested properly in animal studies. However, because of the potential for serious adverse effects to the fetus, this drug should not be used by pregnant women.

Breast-feeding Warning

Clindamycin is excreted in human milk. Because of the potential for serious adverse effects in nursing infants, you should not take this drug while nursing.

Safety Warnings For This Drug [top]

Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea

Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) is quite common and its incidence varies from 5% to 20% of patients depending on which antibiotic they are taking, although practically all antibiotics have been associated with AAD. Fortunately, most cases are mild and self-limited, ending with the cessation of use of the offending antibiotic. The antibiotics most commonly associated with this mild form of AAD include ampicillin, amoxicillin, cephalosporins and clindamycin.[1] There have been studies in children or adults in which the use of prophylactic yogurt in people using antibiotics has significantly reduced the occurrence or severity of AAD.[2],[3] However, 10% to 20% of all patients who get AAD (0.5% to 4% of patients using antibiotics) will get the more severe form of AAD known as pseudomembranous colitis (see below). If you are taking any antibiotic and develop diarrhea after starting to use the drug, call your physician to discuss whether another antibiotic should be used and to discuss the need for rehydration due to the fluid loss from the diarrhea.

Pseudomembranous colitis has been reported with nearly all antibacterial agents and may range in severity from mild to life-threatening. Therefore, it is important to consider this diagnosis in patients who present with diarrhea subsequent to the administration of antibacterial agents.

Because antibiotic therapy has been associated with severe colitis, which may end fatally, it should be reserved for serious infections where less toxic antimicrobial agents are inappropriate, as described in the INDICATIONS AND USAGE section. It should not be used in patients with nonbacterial infections such as most upper respiratory tract infections. Treatment with antibacterial agents alters the normal flora of the colon and may permit over-growth of clostridia. Studies indicate that a toxin produced by Clostridium difficile is one primary cause of "antibiotic-associated colitis."

After the diagnosis of pseudomembranous colitis has been established, therapeutic measures should be initiated. Mild cases of pseudomembranous colitis usually respond to drug discontinuation alone. In moderate to severe cases, consideration should be given to management with fluids and electrolytes, protein supplementation, and treatment with an antibacterial drug that is clinically effective against C. difficile colitis.

Diarrhea, colitis, and pseudomembranous colitis have been observed to begin up to several weeks following cessation of therapy.

Facts About This Drug [top]

Clindamycin (CLEOCIN) is used to treat life-threatening infections[4] that do not respond to penicillin or other antibiotics, such as bone or abdominal infections. Clindamycin will not help a cold or the flu, and it is too dangerous to use for sore throats and other upper respiratory infections.

Adverse effects

Authorities in the Netherlands have received reports of taste disorders in patients using intravenous or oral clindamycin.[5]

However, clindamycin can have more serious...

Clindamycin (CLEOCIN) is used to treat life-threatening infections[4] that do not respond to penicillin or other antibiotics, such as bone or abdominal infections. Clindamycin will not help a cold or the flu, and it is too dangerous to use for sore throats and other upper respiratory infections.

Adverse effects

Authorities in the Netherlands have received reports of taste disorders in patients using intravenous or oral clindamycin.[5]

However, clindamycin can have more serious adverse effects that can occur up to several weeks after discontinuing use of the drug. It can cause serious inflammation of the large intestine; abdominal cramps; and severe, life-threatening diarrhea, sometimes with passage of blood and mucus. These adverse effects can happen up to several weeks after you stop using the drug.

Because of the possibility of these serious adverse effects, doctors should prescribe a drug less toxic than clindamycin if at all possible. Patients taking clindamycin should watch closely for the serious adverse effects listed. If any occur, the patient should call his or her doctor immediately to discuss stopping clindamycin. Patients should not take any other medication to treat the adverse effects. Taking antidiarrheal drugs to treat diarrhea caused by clindamycin can prolong or worsen the diarrhea instead of helping.

Patients with combined liver and kidney disease should take less than the usual adult dose of clindamycin.

Before You Use This Drug [top]

Tell your doctor if you have or have had:

  • allergies to drugs
  • an unusual reaction to doxorubicin or lincomycin
  • kidney or liver problems
  • stomach or intestinal disease
  • pregnancy or are breast-feeding

Tell your doctor about any other drugs you take, including aspirin, herbs, vitamins, and other nonprescription products.

When You Use This Drug [top]

  • If you plan to have any surgery, including dental, tell your doctor that you take this drug.
  • Check with your doctor if there is no improvement within a few days.
  • have regular visits with your doctor to check on your progress.
  • If you get severe diarrhea, check with your doctor before taking any antidiarrheals.

How to Use This Drug [top]

  • If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, but skip it if it is almost time for the next dose. Do not take double doses.
  • Do not share your medication with others.
  • Take the drug at the same time(s) each day. Space doses evenly.
  • Take this drug for the prescribed length of time. If you stop too soon, your symptoms could come back.
  • Take with a full glass (eight ounces) of water or with meals.
  • Do not take solution after expiration date.
  • For tablets: Store at room temperature with lid on tightly. Do not store in the bathroom. Do not expose to heat, moisture, or strong light. Keep out of reach of children

Interactions with Other Drugs [top]

The following drugs, biologics (e.g., vaccines, therapeutic antibodies), or foods are listed in Evaluations of Drug Interactions 2003 as causing “highly clinically significant” or “clinically significant” interactions when used together with any of the drugs in this section. In some sections with multiple drugs, the interaction may have been reported for one but not all drugs in this section, but we include the interaction because the drugs in this section are similar to one another. We have also included potentially serious interactions listed in the drug’s FDA-approved professional package insert or in published medical journal articles. There may be other drugs, especially those in the families of drugs listed below, that also will react with this drug to cause severe adverse effects. Make sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist the drugs you are taking and tell them if you are taking any of these interacting drugs:

EES, erythromycin, ether, FORTOVASE, INVIRASE, pancuronium, PAVULON, saquinavir.

Adverse Effects [top]

Call your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • severe stomach cramps or abdominal pain
  • abdominal tendernes
  • severe, watery diarrhea (may contain blood)
  • fever and sore throat
  • skin rash, redness, or itching
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

Call your doctor if these symptoms continue:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • itching in the genital or rectal area

Call your doctor if these symptoms continue after you stop taking this drug:

  • severe stomach cramps or abdominal pain
  • abdominal tenderness
  • severe, watery diarrhea (may contain blood)

Periodic Tests[top]

Ask your doctor which of these tests should be done periodically while you are taking this drug:

  • colonoscopy and/or protosigmoidoscopy
  • stool examinations

last reviewed April 30, 2021