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Fact Checked

What is the Cost of Clindamycin?

Everyone experiences an infection at some time or another, whether that cut on your finger gets infected, you’re dealing with bacterial vaginosis, or you’ve recently been exposed to inhalational anthrax. Although those infections have different implications, one common antibiotic, clindamycin, is used to treat all of them. Clindamycin belongs to a family of drugs called lincomycin antibiotics (included in the lincosamide antibiotic class), and it is used to treat serious bacterial infections that do not respond to treatment with other antibiotics. Clindamycin was prescribed 4,934,442 times in 2017 in the United States alone. Unfortunately, inappropriate prescription and use of antibiotics have caused a rise in drug-resistant bacteria over the past several decades, many of which are no longer impacted by common antibiotics that are more broad-spectrum and widely used. Clindamycin can be a helpful medication in these situations, but what is the cost of clindamycin, and what should patients know about it?

What is Clindamycin?

Clindamycin, sold under the brand name Cleocin, is a lincomycin antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. Cleocin, the brand name medication, was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999 for the treatment of certain types of lung infections, skin infections, blood infections, infections of the female reproductive organs, and infection of the internal organs. Clindamycin belongs to a class of drugs called lincomycin antibiotics, and like other antibiotics, it works by slowing or stopping the growth of bacteria in the body. Antibiotics like clindamycin are not effective when used to treat viral infections like the common cold, flu, or coronavirus, although antibiotics like it are often improperly prescribed for these illnesses. Clindamycin should only be used to treat bacterial infections that have not responded to treatment with other antibiotics, as there are some serious side effects associated with the use of the medication that must be avoided if at all possible.

What is Clindamycin Used to Treat?

Clindamycin hydrochloride is used to treat a wide range of conditions that result from bacterial infections, including has many different treatment applications and can be used to treat a variety of conditions resulting from bacterial infections, including those involving C. difficile (clostridium difficile) which can cause anything from abdominal pain to more serious infections of the colon, staphylococci (staphylococcus aureus), and streptococci (streptococcus pyogenes, streptococcus pneumoniae). Clindamycin is commonly used to treat certain types of soft tissue infections, skin infections, blood infections, infections of the female reproductive organs (used in a vaginal cream form), and infection of the internal organs. In some instances, clindamycin phosphate is also used to treat acne, anthrax exposure, malaria, ear infections, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, toxoplasmosis, bacterial vaginosis, and for the prevention of endocarditis. It is effective against anaerobic bacteria and bacteroides as well. Clindamycin should be taken with a full glass of water, preferably at room temperature.

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What Causes Bacterial Infections?

Each person contains more than 700 species of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that make up our microbiome. Among these microorganisms are trillions of bacteria, which can be good, bad, or neutral depending on the size of their population within our bodies and their location. Good bacteria are called probiotics, and they carry out important functions like fighting disease, aiding in digestion, and more. Harmful bacteria are known as pathobiotics, and these bacteria can cause disease and infection. Bacteria that can be harmful or helpful depending on their location and the size of their colony are called eubiotics. Most of the time, the amount of good and bad bacteria in our bodies is balanced, and the good bacteria outnumber the potentially harmful bacteria. A bacterial infection occurs when the amounts of probiotics and pathobiotics become imbalanced. Under normal circumstances, probiotic bacteria are able to fight off the pathobiotic bacteria and prevent infection, but a disrupted microbiome causes the immune system to weaken, allowing infection to take hold and spread. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat bacterial infections because they work by killing the pathobiotic bacteria that are causing the infection. 

What is the Cost of Clindamycin?

Clindamycin is a commonly prescribed antibiotic and it is considered highly affordable in its generic form. Antibiotics are generally not taken for a period of more than two weeks, and most prescriptions last for seven to ten days, depending on the type of infection. Purchasing ten capsules at 300 mg strength will cost anywhere from 10 to 17 dollars regardless of whether the brand name or generic form of the drug is purchased, as many manufacturers produce clindamycin. The medication is also available in lotion, oral solution, cream, and other forms. 

Although it is not the case with every form of clindamycin, brand name medications are often substantially more expensive than generic forms of the same medication. Although some people prefer to take brand name medications due to concerns about the quality of generic drugs, generic medications are held to the same quality and safety standards by the FDA as brand name drugs. Therefore, unless you have a medical issue or health condition that requires you to take the brand name form of a drug, the generic version will offer the same treatment results at a lower price the vast majority of the time.

Clindamycin is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, as well as most commercial insurance programs, which makes it accessible for more people than some antibiotics. However, clindamycin is sold by prescription only, which means that patients will still need to take a trip to the doctor’s office in order to obtain the drug. Despite popular belief, insurance doesn’t always offer the greatest savings on prescription drugs. In fact, pharmacy discount card programs like USA Rx also offer savings on all FDA-approved brand name and generic medications, including clindamycin, and patients can sign up for free. 

Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Clindamycin?

Clindamycin can cause some common side effects that usually do not require medical attention. However, if you experience any of the following adverse effects in a severe form, or if any of the following side effects do not go away, you should tell your doctor about your experience:

  • Nausea
  • Unpleasant or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Pain when swallowing
  • White patches in the mouth
  • Burning, itching, or swelling of the vagina
  • Vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Heartburn
  • Thick, white vaginal discharge

Clindamycin can also cause serious side effects that require you seek medical advice and attention. If you experience any of the following side effects, contact your doctor and seek medical treatment immediately:

  • Peeling or blistering skin
  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, throat, lips, eyes, feet, hands, lower legs, or ankles
  • Decreased urination
  • Skin rash
  • Itching
  • Hoarseness
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes

Are There Any Drug Reactions Associated With Clindamycin?

Clindamycin does interact with a number of prescription and over the counter medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, and nutritional supplements, especially because of its mechanism of action. Drug interactions associated with clindamycin include:

  • Clarithromycin (Biaxin, in PrevPac)
  • Indinavir (Crixivan)
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • Rifampin (Rifadin, in Rifamate, in Rifater, Rimactane)
  • Erythromycin (E.E.S, E-Mycin, Erythrocin)
  • Itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • Nefazodone
  • Nelfinavir (Viracept)
  • Ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra)

Regardless of whether you take any medications found on the above list, make sure to give your healthcare provider a complete list of all prescription and over the counter drugs you are taking as well as any nutritional supplements or herbal supplements.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Clindamycin?

Although it may seem counterintuitive, some antibiotics, including clindamycin, can cause the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the large intestine. Clindamycin is more likely to cause this bacterial infection to develop than many other antibiotics, so it should only be prescribed for the treatment of infections that do not respond to other antibiotics. The overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the large intestine can cause symptoms that range from mild diarrhea to a life-threatening condition called colitis, or inflammation of the large intestine. Clindamycin can cause this infection to occur either during treatment or several months after treatment has ended. Patients should notify their doctors if they experience any of the following symptoms during their treatment with clindamycin or within several months of ending treatment with the medication:

  • Watery or bloody stools
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Who Should Not Take Clindamycin?

Due to the potential for bacterial overgrowth in the large intestine, people who have colitis, Crohn’s disease, or any other intestinal disorder should exercise extreme caution when using clindamycin and must disclose their medical history to their healthcare professional. People with any of the following medical conditions must notify their doctor before taking clindamycin:

  • Eczema or an allergic skin reaction
  • Asthma or severe allergic reaction to asthma
  • Colitis, Crohn’s disease, or other intestinal disorder
  • Liver disease
  • An allergy to yellow food dye

Pregnant women should use caution when taking clindamycin, as it is unknown whether taking clindamycin during pregnancy will harm an unborn baby. Clindamycin does pass through breast milk to nursing infants and can cause side effects, including diaper rash, stomach discomfort, redness or white patches in the mouth or throat, or diarrhea that is watery or bloody. Be sure to let your doctor know if you will be nursing while taking clindamycin.

References:

https://www.drugs.com/clindamycin.html 

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682399.html 

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-12235/clindamycin-hcl-oral/details 

https://www.healthline.com/health/clindamycin-for-tooth-infection 

https://clincalc.com/DrugStats/Drugs/Clindamycin

Published August 31st, 2020 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by Chris Riley

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