What is Netilmicin?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 22 May 2020
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Netilmicin is a broad spectrum antibiotic effective against many Gram negative and some Gram positive bacteria. In regions of the world where it is available, it is typically used when patients have a drug resistant infection, such as gentamicin, that does not respond to other antibiotics. This drug is administered by injection or infusion in a clinical setting under the supervision of a doctor or nurse, and the patient may be provided with other therapies as well, depending on the nature of the infection.

This antibiotic is part of the aminoglycoside family. Netilmicin works by binding to part of a bacteria's genetic material, causing it to misread directions in RNA when it is preparing to replicate. This results in errors, impairing bacterial reproduction and killing off the infection as older generations of bacteria die and newer generations cannot reproduce.

The medication cannot be absorbed through the intestinal tract, and for this reason it must be administered by injection, with the site and type of injection being chosen by the care provider. Patients often experience weakness and nausea after the drug is administered and as their bodies react to it. More seriously, netilmicin has been linked with kidney damage, neurological problems, and hearing loss. Patients who experience symptoms like tremors, ringing in their ears, dizziness, and changes to the color of their urine should alert their doctors so an evaluation can be conducted.

Netilmicin is usually prescribed for the treatment of aggressive respiratory infections, urinary tract infections that do not respond to other treatments, and septicemia. Patients should monitor the injection site, as sometimes a small skin reaction develops, and the site may become red and irritated. A nurse or doctor can evaluate the site to see if treatment is needed or if the irritation should resolve on its own with some supportive care like keeping the site clean and dry.

Patients with compromised kidneys, as well as patients taking medications known to be dangerous to the kidneys, may not be good candidates for netilmicin therapy. These patients are at increased risk of experiencing kidney failure from this medication. Damage can persist even after the medication is withdrawn, making it important to be safe rather than sorry when making decisions about what to prescribe. If a patient would be put at risk on this medication, a doctor can explore available alternatives to provide an appropriate level of care with fewer risks of dangerous side effects.


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