Antibiotics, also called antibacterials are a type of antimicrobial drug used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infection. They either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics may have several mechanisms of action, including inhibiting cell wall synthesis, increasing cell membrane permeability, and interfering with protein synthesis, nucleic acid metabolism, and other metabolic processes (e.g. folic acid synthesis).

Beta-lactam antibiotics, including penicillins and non-penicillin classes, share a basic chemical structure that includes a three-carbon, one-nitrogen cyclic amine structure known as the beta-lactam ring. Nearly all of these antibiotics prevent bacteria from constructing a cell wall by binding to penicillin-binding proteins (PBPs) which are enzymes inside bacterial cells involved in the final stages in the synthesis of peptidoglycan.

Drugs containing the lactam functional group are among those prone to hydrolysis. Modification of chemical structure may be used to retard hydrolysis. As it is only a fraction of the drug in a solution that hydrolyzes, a compound may be stabilized by reducing its solubility. It is for this reason that penicillin powder, reconstituted in water, given as an injection, has a citric acid citrate buffer system.

Beta-lactam antibiotics include the following classes:

  • Penicillins (e.g. ampiciilin, oxacillin)
  • Cephalosporins (e.g. cephalexin, cefaclor)
  • Carbapenems (e.g. imipenem, meropenem)
  • Carbacephems (e.g. loracarbef)
  • Monobactams (e.g. aztreonam)

Non beta-lactam antibiotics are used as alternatives to beta lactam antibiotics.

The following are examples of non beta-lactam antibiotics:

  • Fluoroquinolones (e.g. ciprofloxacin)
  • Aminoglycosides (e.g. amikacin)
  • Macrolides (e.g. azithromycin)
  • Sulfonamides (e.g. sulfadiazine)
  • Tetracyclines (e.g. doxycycline)
  • Lincosamides (e.g. lincomycin)
  • Miscellaneous (e.g. chloramphenicol, nitrofurantoin)

There should be a separate manufacturing facility for beta-lactam and non beta-lactam products to fully avoid cross contamination by means of air. Separate manufacturing facility means separate building (with the proper distance), air handling unit, equipment, all utility excluding electricity and even staff.

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