Tag Archives: pharmacy practice

Bacteriostatic doesn’t mean “ineffective”

I hear some wacky stuff come out of the mouths of pharmacists sometimes, and it makes me sad, because they should know better. One recent gem, said to a technician was “Well Zithromax doesn’t actually kill the infection. It’s a bacteriostatic drug, so it doesn’t really do anything. Why waste your money? Amoxicillin’s the same way.”

My blood pressure went up a few points — at least they didn’t say it to a patient.

Bacteriostatic doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. It also doesn’t mean that you’d be just as well off taking sugar pills. In fact, there are relatively few bactericidal drugs out there, and most of them are the nuclear bombs of the antibacterials: fluouroquinolones, vanco, rifampin, linezolid, and so on. The majority of oral antibiotics that are filled on a daily basis are, in fact, bacteriostatic.

And guess what? It doesn’t matter. Bacteriostatic drugs hold the infection in check while the immune system clears it out. I thought this was common knowledge; I guess I was wrong. Of course there are instances when this isn’t good enough. Those are the minority of circumstances, however. Infections don’t usually need to be killed. That’s why we have an immune system.