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Cephalexin (Molecule of the Month for March 1999)


Cephalexin is a member of the cephalosporin group of antibiotics, and is prescribed for a variety of mild infections. It is not as wide ranging in its action as some other antibiotics, but it is useful for treating infections of the respiratory tract as well as skin conditions (including acne) and soft tissue infections. The antibiotic can be prescribed on its own or as a follow up after an injection of a stronger cephalosporin has been administered. It is also used as a low dose antibiotic that can be administered over an extended period of time. It is a fairly short acting antibiotic and therefore is not as convenient as some others because it must be taken fairly frequently (every four hours).

The side effects of the pure drug are usually fairly mild, and the danger of overdose is low. However, it can be administered as one of several preparations including cephalexin hydrochloride monohydrate, which can have more severe side effects including nephrotoxicity and cholstatic jaundice. Added to this, the safety of some of these preparations has not been fully determined for use in children. Recent tests have also been carried out to ascertain the suitability of the drug for use in veterinary practices.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)

Picture of Cephalexin 3D model

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Cephalexin structure
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Picture of Cephalexin

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for March 1999 )

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