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Examples of penicillins are penicillin V (Beepen-VK, Pen-Vee K, V-cillin K, Veetids) and amoxicillin (Amoxil, Polymox, Trimox, Wymox). Penicillins are sometimes combined with other ingredients called beta-lactamase inhibitors, which protect the penicillin from bacterial enzymes that may destroy it before it can do its work. The drug Augmentin, for example, contains a combination of amoxicillin and a betalactamase inhibitor, clavulanic acid.

Penicillins are available only with a physician's prescription. They are sold in capsule, tablet (regular and chewable), liquid, and injectable forms.

Recommended dosage

The recommended dosage depends on the type of penicillin, the strength of the medicine, and the medical problem for which it is being taken. Check with the physician who prescribed the drug or the pharmacist who filled the prescription for the correct dosage.

Always take penicillins exactly as directed. Never take larger, smaller, more frequent, or less frequent doses. To make sure the infection clears up completely, take the medicine for as long as it has been prescribed. Do not stop taking the drug just because symptoms begin to improve. This is important with all types of infections, but it is especially important with "strep" infections, which can lead to serious heart problems if they are not cleared up completely.

Take this medicine only for the infection for which it was prescribed. Different kinds of penicillins cannot be substituted for one another. Do not save some of the medicine to use on future infections. It may not be the right treatment for other kinds of infections, even if the symptoms are the same.

Penicillins work best when they are at constant levels in the blood. To help keep levels constant, take the medicine in doses spaced evenly through the day and night. Do not miss any doses.

Some penicillins, notably penicillin V, should be taken on an empty stomach, but others may be taken with food. Check package directions or ask the physician or pharmacist for instructions on how to take the medicine.

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