Systematic (IUPAC) name
methyl 7-chloro-6,7,8-trideoxy-6-{[(4R)-1-methyl-4-propyl-L-prolyl]amino}-1-thio-L-threo-α-D-galacto-octopyranoside
Clinical data
Trade names Cleocin, Daclin
AHFS/ monograph
MedlinePlus a682399
Licence data US FDA:link
Pregnancy cat. A(AU) B(US)
Legal status Prescription Only (S4) (AU) POM (UK) -only (US)
Routes Oral, topical, IV, intravaginal
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability 90% (oral)
4–5% (topical)
Protein binding 95%
Metabolism Hepatic
Half-life 2–3 hours
Excretion Biliary and renal (around 20%)
CAS number 18323-44-9 YesY
ATC code J01FF01 D10AF01 G01AA10
PubChem CID 446598
DrugBank APRD00566
ChemSpider 393915 YesY
UNII 3U02EL437C YesY
KEGG D00277 YesY
Synonyms 7-chloro-lincomycin
Chemical data
Formula C18H33ClN2O5S 
Mol. mass 424.98 g/mol
SMILES eMolecules & PubChem
 N(what is this?)  (verify)

Clindamycin rINN (play /klɪndəˈmsɨn/) is a lincosamide antibiotic. It is usually used to treat infections with anaerobic bacteria but can also be used to treat some protozoal diseases, such as malaria. It is a common topical treatment for acne and can be useful against some methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections.[1]

The most severe common adverse effect of clindamycin is Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (the most frequent cause of pseudomembranous colitis). Although this side effect occurs with almost all antibiotics, including beta-lactam antibiotics, it is classically linked to clindamycin use.[2]

Clindamycin is marketed under various trade names, including Dalacin, ''Daclin''. Combination products include Duac, BenzaClin, Clindoxyl and Acanya (in combination with benzoyl peroxide), and Ziana (with tretinoin). Clindamycin is also available as a generic drug.



Clindamycin is used primarily to treat anaerobic infections caused by susceptible anaerobic bacteria, including dental infections,[3] and infections of the respiratory tract, skin and soft tissue infections, and peritonitis.[4] In patients with hypersensitivity to penicillins, clindamycin may be used to treat infections caused by susceptible aerobic bacteria, as well. It is also used to treat bone and joint infections, particularly those caused by Staphylococcus aureus.[4][5] Topical application of clindamycin phosphate can be used to treat mild to moderate acne.[6]


Combination therapy in acne

Multiple studies have shown the use of clindamycin in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide, which is available both through prescription or over-the-counter, to be more effective in the treatment of acne than the use of either product by itself.[7][8][9] A single-blind study comparing this combination to adapalene, a retinoid, also found it to work faster and be significantly better tolerated than adapalene, as well as more effective.[10]

Clindamycin and adapalene in combination are also more effective than either drug alone, although adverse effects are more frequent;[11] a single study found pretreatment with adapalene (application of adapalene 3–5 minutes before clindamycin) to significantly increase the penetration of clindamycin into the skin, which may enhance efficacy.[12]

Susceptible bacteria (spectrum of activity)

It is most effective against infections involving the following types of organisms:

Most aerobic Gram-negative bacteria (such as Pseudomonas, Legionella, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella) are resistant to clindamycin,[13][14] as are the facultative anaerobic Enterobacteriaceae.[15] A notable exception is Capnocytophaga canimorsus, for which clindamycin is a first-line drug of choice.[16]


It can also be useful in skin and soft tissue infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA);[1] many strains of MRSA are still susceptible to clindamycin; however, in the United States spreading from the West Coast eastwards, MRSA is becoming increasingly resistant.

Clindamycin is used in cases of suspected toxic shock syndrome,[17] often in combination with a bactericidal agent such as vancomycin. The rationale for this approach is a presumed synergy between vancomycin, which causes the death of the bacteria by breakdown of the cell membrane, and clindamycin, which is a powerful inhibitor of toxin synthesis. Both in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that clindamycin reduces the production of exotoxins by staphylococci;[18] it may also induce changes in the surface structure of bacteria that make them more sensitive to immune system attack (opsonization and phagocytosis).[19][20]

Clindamycin has been proven to decrease the risk of premature births in women diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis during early pregnancy to about a third of the risk of untreated women.[21]



Given with chloroquine or quinine, clindamycin is effective and well-tolerated in treating Plasmodium falciparum malaria; the latter combination is particularly useful for children, and is the treatment of choice for pregnant women who become infected in areas where resistance to chloroquine is common.[22][23] Clindamycin should not be used as an antimalarial by itself, although it appears to be very effective as such, because of its slow action.[22][23] Patient-derived isolates of Plasmodium falciparum from the Peruvian Amazon have been reported to be resistant to clindamycin as evidenced by in vitro drug susceptibility testing.[24]


The combination of clindamycin and quinine is the standard treatment for severe babesiosis.[25]

Clindamycin may also be used to treat toxoplasmosis,[13][26][27] and, in combination with primaquine, is effective in treating mild to moderate Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia.[28]

Available forms

Clindamycin preparations for oral administration include capsules (containing clindamycin hydrochloride) and oral suspensions (containing clindamycin palmitate hydrochloride). Oral suspension is not favored for administration of clindamycin to children, due to its extremely foul taste and odor. Clindamycin is also formulated in a vaginal cream and as vaginal suppositories for treatment of bacterial vaginosis. It is also available for topical administration, in gel form and in a foam delivery system (both containing clindamycin phosphate) and a solution in ethanol (containing clindamycin hydrochloride) and is used primarily as a prescription acne treatment.

Several combination acne treatments containing clindamycin are also marketed, such as single-product formulations of clindamycin with benzoyl peroxide—sold as BenzaClin (Sanofi-Aventis), Duac (a gel form made by Stiefel), and Acanya, among other trade names—and, in the United States, a combination of clindamycin and tretinoin, sold as Ziana.[29] In India, vaginal suppositories containing clindamycin in combination with clotrimazole are manufactured by Olive Health Care and sold as Clinsup-V. In Egypt, vaginal cream containing clindamycin produced by Biopharmgroup sold as Vagiclind indicated for vaginosis.

Clindamycin is available as a generic drug, for both systemic (oral and intravenous) and topical use.[citation needed] (The exceptions are the oral suspension and vaginal suppositories, which are not available as generics in the USA.)[citation needed]

Adverse effects

Common adverse drug reactions (ADRs) associated with clindamycin therapy — found in over 1% of patients — include: diarrhea, pseudomembranous colitis, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or cramps, rash, and/or itch. High doses (both intravenous and oral) may cause a metallic taste, and topical application may cause contact dermatitis.[30] Diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea are common if the individual lies down for an extended period of time within 30 minutes of taking clindamycin. In addition, severe heartburn can be expected for up to three days if the individual does not stay in an elevated position for at least 30 minutes.

Pseudomembranous colitis is a potentially lethal condition commonly associated with clindamycin, but which occurs with other antibiotics, as well.[2][31] Overgrowth of Clostridium difficile, which is inherently resistant to clindamycin, results in the production of a toxin that causes a range of adverse effects, from diarrhea to colitis and toxic megacolon.[30]

Rarely — in less than 0.1% of patients — clindamycin therapy has been associated with anaphylaxis, blood dyscrasias, polyarthritis, jaundice, raised liver enzyme levels, and/or hepatotoxicity.[30]


Clindamycin is a semisynthetic derivative of lincomycin, a natural antibiotic produced by the actinobacterium Streptomyces lincolnensis. It is obtained by 7(S)-chloro-substitution of the 7(R)-hydroxyl group of lincomycin.[32]

Mechanism of action

Clindamycin has a bacteriostatic effect. It is a bacterial protein synthesis inhibitor by inhibiting ribosomal translocation,[33] in a similar way to macrolides. It does so by binding to the 50S rRNA of the large bacterial ribosome subunit.[13]

The structures of the complexes between several antibiotics (including clindamycin) and a Deinococcus radiodurans ribosome have been solved by X-ray crystallography by a team from the Max Planck Working Groups for Structural Molecular Biology, and published in the journal Nature.[34]


Clindamycin may prolong the effects of neuromuscular-blocking drugs.[35][36][37][38] Its similarity to the mechanism of action of macrolides and chloramphenicol means they should not be given simultaneously, as this causes antagonism[14] and possible cross-resistance.

Veterinary use

The veterinary uses of clindamycin are quite similar to its human indications, and include treatment of osteomyelitis,[39] skin infections, and toxoplasmosis, for which it is the preferred drug in dogs and cats.[40] Toxoplasmosis rarely causes symptoms in cats, but can do so in very young or immunocompromised kittens and cats. Toxoplasmosis is zoonotic (communicable from animals to humans), so cat owners, pregnant women in particular, should take precautions to prevent the spread of the disease

See also

Tabletten.JPG Pharmacy and Pharmacology portal


  1. ^ a b Daum RS (2007). "Clinical practice. Skin and soft-tissue infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus". N Engl J Med 357 (4): 380–90. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp070747. PMID 17652653. 
  2. ^ a b Thomas C, Stevenson M, Riley TV (2003). "Antibiotics and hospital-acquired Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea: a systematic review". J Antimicrob Chemother 51 (6): 1339–50. doi:10.1093/jac/dkg254. PMID 12746372. 
  3. ^ Brook I, Lewis MA, Sándor GK, Jeffcoat M, Samaranayake LP, Vera Rojas J. Clindamycin in dentistry: more than just effective prophylaxis for endocarditis? Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2005 ;100:550-8
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  • clindamycin hydrochloride — [USP] the hydrated hydrochloride salt of clindamycin; used primarily in the treatment of penicillin resistant gram positive infections and in patients allergic to penicillin; administered orally …   Medical dictionary

  • clindamycin palmitate hydrochloride — [USP] a water soluble hydrochloride salt of the ester of clindamycin and palmitic acid, having the same actions and uses as the hydrochloride salt; it is suitable for the preparation of solutions for oral administration …   Medical dictionary

  • clindamycin phosphate — [USP] a water soluble ester of clindamycin and phosphoric acid, having the same actions and uses as the hydrochloride salt; administered intramuscularly or intravenously. It is also used topically in the treatment of acne vulgaris and vaginally… …   Medical dictionary

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