Antibiotic resistance remains a trending issue and cannot be overemphasized. Of course, Amoxicillin contains just amoxicillin,whereas Augmentin contains amoxicillin too and more… However, there are few more things to note.
If you’ve received a prescription for Augmentin (amoxicillin with clavulanate potassium), you may wonder why you need this extra added agent clavulanate potassium.
Well, Amoxicillin is an antibiotic in a group of drugs called penicillins. Penicillins are effective at targeting bacteria to kill them (bacteriocidal) because they have a beta lactam ring. However, a number of bacteria are resistant to penicillins. This is possible because these bacteria produce a beta lactamase enzyme which can cleave or split the beta-lactam chemical structure in antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin rendering the antibiotic ineffective.
See also: What are Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria?
A number of bacteria are resistant to penicillins and produce a beta lactamase enzyme which can cleave or split the beta-lactam chemical structure in antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin rendering the antibiotic ineffective.
Now, this is where clavulanate potassium comes in.
Clavulanate potassium is a beta-lactamase inhibitor. This means that when the bacteria produces the beta lactamase enzyme which should destroy amoxicillin, clavulanate potassium prevents bacteria from destroying amoxicillin by inhibiting or preventing the action of the beta lactamase enzyme.
Simply put, to fight resistance, beta-lactamase inhibitors like clavulanate potassium are given with beta-lactam antibiotics like amoxicillin to block the action of the beta-lactamase enzyme. Clavulanate potassium destroys the bacteria’s defense.
In conclusion, Augmentin does not replace Amoxicillin because it contains clavulanate potassium. Augmentin may be more appropriate for infections caused by beta lactamase producing bacteria or resistant bacteria. However, Amoxicillin is still rightly used for mild to severe infections caused by susceptible bacteria in children and adults.
Note: Clavulanate potassium given by itself is not effective as an antibiotic.