Penicillin vs Augmentin

Listen to the article instead of reading through it.


For patients with certain types of bacterial infections, specific antibiotics can be prescribed to help eradicate the invading bacteria and manage symptoms. Penicillin and Augmentin are two such drugs that are commonly used for this purpose. They each have different modes of action but both aim at destroying or inhibiting the growth of bacteria causing the infection.

Penicillin is a group of antibiotics originally derived from Penicillium fungi, which works by interfering with cell wall synthesis in multiplying bacteria leading to their death. On the other hand, Augmentin is a combination medication containing amoxicillin (a penicillin-family drug) and clavulanate potassium. The presence of clavulanate helps prevent some forms of resistance to amoxicillin ensuring it remains effective against many otherwise resistant strains.

What is Penicillin?

Penicillin, the first antibiotic ever discovered, was a significant breakthrough in the medical world. It is a class of antibiotics that combats bacterial infections by inhibiting the formation of their cell walls. Penicillin has been used effectively for many years to treat various types of bacterial infections and was approved by the FDA way back in 1943.

On the other hand, Augmentin is an advanced antibiotic which contains two active ingredients: amoxicillin (a penicillin derivative) and clavulanic acid. The addition of clavulanic acid to amoxicillin extends its spectrum of activity against bacteria that are normally resistant to penicillins due to their ability to produce beta-lactamase enzymes which can deactivate penicillins.

In terms of side effects, both medications may cause similar issues like diarrhea or nausea; however, Augmentin might lead to more gastrointestinal problems due its additional ingredient - clavulanic acid. Therefore, while both drugs serve a similar purpose in combating bacterial infections, your doctor’s choice between them would depend on factors such as type and severity of infection along with individual tolerance towards each drug's potential side effects.

What conditions is Penicillin approved to treat?

Penicillin and Augmentin are both approved for the treatment of various bacterial infections:

  • Penicillin is often used to treat streptococcal infections, syphilis, and prevention of rheumatic fever.
  • Augmentin (a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate) is typically prescribed for more resistant bacterial infections such as sinusitis, pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, and skin infections.

How does Penicillin help with these illnesses?

Penicillin works to combat bacterial infections by targeting the synthesis of bacterial cell walls. It does this by binding and inhibiting enzymes called penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) that are essential for bacteria to build their cell walls, thereby causing the bacteria to weaken and die off. Penicillin is a type of antibiotic—a chemical substance that can kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms—and plays an important role in treating various types of infections caused by susceptible strains of bacteria.

Augmentin, on the other hand, is a combination drug consisting of amoxicillin (a form of penicillin) and clavulanate potassium. While amoxicillin also acts against PBPs just like penicillin, many strains have developed resistance due to production of beta-lactamase—an enzyme that deactivates penicillins' antibacterial effect. Clavulanate potassium counteracts this issue as it's a beta-lactamase inhibitor; it blocks these resistant enzymes from acting upon amoxicillin allowing it to exert its antibacterial effects effectively even against some resistant strains.

Therefore, while both can treat bacterial infections effectively, Augmentin may be chosen when dealing with certain types or more severe cases due to its added protection against beta-lactamase produced by resistant bacteria.

What is Augmentin?

Augmentin is a brand name for the combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, making it a penicillin-type antibiotic with an added beta-lactamase inhibitor. This dual action means that Augmentin not only prevents the formation of bacterial cell walls (like other penicillins), but also counteracts bacterial resistance mechanisms by inhibiting beta-lactamases, enzymes produced by bacteria that can degrade antibiotics like penicillin. The drug was first approved by the FDA in 1984. Unlike traditional penicillins, Augmentin's ability to inhibit these enzymes broadens its effectiveness against a wider range of bacteria and makes it more potent against certain resistant strains. Its side-effect profile may be slightly different than single-ingredient antibiotics due to this dual mechanism; diarrhea, nausea or skin rashes are commonly reported side effects. For treating infections where resistance is likely or confirmed, Augmentin can offer advantages over typical penicillins such as Penicillin G or V.

What conditions is Augmentin approved to treat?

Augmentin, a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, is approved for the treatment of infections caused by certain bacteria. Some conditions that Augmentin is used to treat include:

  • Sinusitis
  • Lower respiratory tract infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Skin and skin structure infections
  • Otitis media (middle ear infection)

How does Augmentin help with these illnesses?

Augmentin is a powerful antibiotic medication that has been designed to fight off bacterial infections in the body. Similar to penicillin, Augmentin plays a role in inhibiting the growth of bacteria by interfering with their ability to form cell walls, which are essential for their survival and proliferation. However, what sets it apart from penicillin is its combination formulation: Augmentin contains not only amoxicillin (a form of penicillin) but also clavulanic acid. This additional component acts as a beta-lactamase inhibitor – effectively neutralizing enzymes produced by certain resistant bacteria that can render penicillins ineffective. By including clavulanic acid, Augmentin extends its antibacterial spectrum and is often prescribed when patients do not respond well to standard antibiotics like pure-penicillins or when dealing with infections caused by beta-lactamase producing bacteria.

How effective are both Penicillin and Augmentin?

Penicillin and Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate) both have long-standing histories of success in treating bacterial infections, and they are commonly used antibiotics worldwide. As penicillins, their mechanism of action is similar; they inhibit the synthesis of bacterial cell walls leading to bacteria death. However, Augmentin includes an additional component - clavulanic acid - that inhibits beta-lactamase enzymes produced by some resistant bacteria to neutralize penicillin-type drugs.

The effectiveness of Penicillin and Augmentin has been compared in various clinical studies for different types of infections. For instance, a 2000 study on acute otitis media in children found comparable efficacy between high-dose Amoxicillin alone and standard-dose amoxicillin-clavulanate (a composition equivalent to Augmentin).

In terms of safety profile, both Penicillin and Augmentin are generally well-tolerated with most side effects being mild-to-moderate such as gastrointestinal disturbances like diarrhea or nausea. Allergic reactions may occur but tend to be rare.

A meta-analysis from 2016 indicated that amoxicilin-clavulanate seems more effective than other common antibiotics in treating respiratory tract infections due its coverage against beta-lactamase producing pathogens which might show resistance towards simple penicillins like Ampicilin. On the flip side though, because it's broader spectrum antibiotic it may contribute more towards antibiotic resistance development if not used judiciously hence reserved as second line treatment option for certain conditions where simple penecilins could suffice.

Nonetheless significant research involves co-prescription scenarios where either drug is combined with another class of antibiotics for polymicrobial infections or severe presentations thereby making data confirming its stand-alone superiority less robust.

Yet considering unique pharmacology aspect ,Augumentine can be optimal choice when we suspect presence of Beta lactmase producing strains or need wider coverage including anaerobes while reducing risk associated hospital stays related costs & complications .

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Penicillin typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Penicillin range from 125-500 mg every 6-8 hours, but studies have shown that a dose of 250-500 mg is typically sufficient for treating mild to moderate infections in adults. Children may be started on doses relative to their body weight. In either population, dosage can be increased or extended beyond the typical treatment duration if there has been no satisfactory response. For severe infections such as meningitis, the dosage can increase significantly with close monitoring by healthcare professionals. The maximum daily dosage should not exceed 3 g/day in divided doses except under exceptional circumstances and under medical supervision.

On the other hand, Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate) is generally prescribed at an adult dose of one standard tablet (containing 875mg amoxicillin &125mg clavulanic acid) every twelve hours or one junior tablet (containing half those amounts) every eight hours depending upon severity of infection and patient’s condition. Pediatric patients are dosed according to body weight with specific calculations based on the nature and severity of infection.

Always consult your physician before starting any antibiotic therapy.

Find Top Clinical Trials

Choose from over 30,000 active clinical trials.

At what dose is Augmentin typically prescribed?

Starting an Augmentin regimen typically begins with a dosage of 250–500 mg every 8 hours or 875 mg every 12 hours, depending on the severity and nature of the infection. If necessary, doctors may increase this to a dose of up to 2000 mg per day (divided into two doses) for adults with severe infections. The maximum recommended daily dose is generally not more than 2000-3000mg divided into two or three doses spaced throughout the day. This higher dosage might be considered if there's no response to initial treatment after a few days. As always, follow your healthcare provider's instructions when taking any prescription medication.

What are the most common side effects for Penicillin?

Common side effects of Penicillin and Augmentin may include:

  • Diarrhea or stomach upset
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash, itching, hives
  • Oral thrush or a new vaginal yeast infection (oral or vaginal fungal infection)
  • Unusual weakness and fatigue
  • Black, hairy tongue

Augmentin has additional potential side effects such as:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness
  • Easy bruising or bleeding

Always contact your healthcare provider if you experience any negative side effects from medications.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Penicillin?

As with any medication, both penicillin and Augmentin can produce side effects in certain patients. Some of the more severe potential reactions to these antibiotics include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat. If you notice these symptoms seek immediate medical attention.
  • Severe skin reactions: fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) leading to blistering and peeling.
  • Serious stomach troubles including severe diarrhea (may be watery or bloody), stomach cramps/pain which could be signs of a new infection.
  • Liver problems indicated by jaundice (yellowing of the skin/eyes), dark urine, persistent nausea/vomiting.
  • Nervous system issues like unsteadiness, seizures/convulsions
  • Unusual bleeding/bruising due to potentially low platelet count.

If you experience any of these serious side effects while taking penicillin or Augmentin—stop using the medication immediately and contact your doctor right away.

What are the most common side effects for Augmentin?

Augmentin, a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium, can have several side effects including:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild skin rash or itching
  • White patches in your mouth or throat
  • Vaginal yeast infection (itching or discharge)
  • Headaches and dizziness

While it also helps to fight against bacterial infections like penicillin does, Augmentin covers a wider spectrum of bacteria. It's important to note that serious side effects are rare but could include severe stomach pain, persistent nausea or vomiting, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine, easy bruising/bleeding and signs of an allergic reaction such as rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness and trouble breathing.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Augmentin?

Augmentin, like any medication, can cause severe side effects in certain cases. It's important to be aware of the following symptoms which may indicate a serious adverse reaction:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Severe stomach pain or cramping along with watery or bloody diarrhea (this could even start months after you stop using Augmentin)
  • Yellowing skin or eyes
  • Dark urine and/or clay-colored stools
  • Unusual bleeding and bruising
  • Rash on the skin that spreads and causes blistering and peeling
  • Fever accompanied by swollen glands

If you experience any of these signs while taking Augmentin, immediately seek medical attention.

Contraindications for Penicillin and Augmentin?

Both penicillin and Augmentin are antibiotics that fight bacteria in the body. If you notice a worsening of your symptoms or an allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat after starting these medications, seek immediate medical attention.

Neither penicillin nor Augmentin should be taken if you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any type of penicillin in the past. Always tell your physician which medications you are taking; this includes over-the-counter medicines and supplements as well as other prescriptions.

Penicillins like Augmentin can interact with certain types of birth control medication and decrease their effectiveness leading to unwanted pregnancy. It is important for women using hormonal contraception to consider additional non-hormonal methods while being treated with these antibiotics.

Additionally, both Penicillin and Augmentin can cause diarrhea due to an imbalance in gut flora. This side effect may occur during treatment or even weeks after stopping it. A severe form known as Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea can lead to serious intestinal conditions if left untreated.

How much do Penicillin and Augmentin cost?

For the brand name versions of these antibiotics:

  • The price for 30 capsules of Penicillin V Potassium (500 mg) averages around $40 to $60, which works out to about $1.33 to $2/day based on a typical dose.
  • The price for 20 tablets of Augmentin (875-125 mg) ranges from approximately $100-$240, working out to roughly $5-$12 per day.

Thus, if you are prescribed the standard dosage for each antibiotic, then brand-name Penicillin is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be your primary consideration when choosing an antibiotic - this decision should always be guided by your healthcare provider's advice.

For the generic versions of penicillin and Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate potassium), costs can be significantly lower:

  • Generic penicillin v potassium is available in packs of 28 tablets with approximate costs varying between $0.25 and $.50 per day depending on dosage.
  • Generic amoxicillin/clavulanate potassium has average prices ranging from about $.90 up to nearly $3 per day depending on medication strength and daily dosages required.

Remember that these prices may vary depending upon pharmacy location and insurance coverage levels.

Popularity of Penicillin and Augmentin

Penicillin, both in its generic form and under various brand names, remains a cornerstone of antibiotic therapy. In 2020, penicillin was estimated to have been prescribed to about 6 million people in the US. Penicillin accounted for just over 8% of antibiotic prescriptions in the country. The prevalence of penicillin as an antimicrobial agent has remained steady over the last decade due to its efficacy against a wide range of bacterial infections.

Augmentin, which is a combination medication containing amoxicillin (a type of penicllin) and clavulanic acid, was prescribed to approximately 4 million people in the USA during 2020. In terms of overall antibiotic prescriptions in America, Augmentin accounts for nearly 7%. Its prescription rate has seen an uptick since around 2013 because it is particularly effective against bacteria that produce beta-lactamase enzymes - these enzymes can break down many types of penicillins and render them ineffective.


Both penicillin and Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate) are effective antibiotics with a long history of use in treating various bacterial infections. They both belong to the class of beta-lactam antibiotics, but they differ slightly in their mechanisms of action: while penicillin primarily targets a wide range of bacteria by inhibiting cell wall synthesis, Augmentin combines this action with an added ability to block certain enzymes that some bacteria produce to resist antibiotic treatment.

This makes Augmentin particularly useful when dealing with resistant strains or more complicated infections that haven’t responded well to first-line treatments such as penicillin. However, it also means that Augmentin may be more likely than penicillin to cause mild side effects like gastrointestinal upset.

Both drugs come in generic forms and are generally affordable options for patients paying out-of-pocket. The onset time for these medications can vary depending on the particular infection being treated.

The side effect profiles between the two drugs are similar and usually manageable; however, compared to Penicillin, Augmentin is more prone causing diarrhea due its clavulanic acid component. As always, it's crucially important for patients taking any antibiotic including Penicillin and Augmentin need monitor themselves closely for signs of an allergic reaction or other adverse events — swelling of your face/lips/tongue/throat, severe dizziness or difficulty breathing require immediate medical attention.