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Difference Between Erythromycin and Clarithromycin

Erythromycin vs Clarithromycin

Antibiotics are very powerful and potent drugs. If penicillin was not invented, many people would have probably died due to infection. Drugs do wonderful things for us. If abused, they can also bring harm to our body systems.

One of the most common antibiotics being prescribed and given by our physicians are erythromycin and clarithromycin. Though both are antibiotics, it’s still best to know the differences between both drugs.

Macrolide is another family of antibiotic that is widely utilized for infections. Erythromycin and clarithromycin are both classified as macrolide antibiotics. However, the former is given to those who are allergic to penicillin. Both drugs were formulated by a Japanese company.

For the structure of both drugs, erythromycin is a pure antibiotic that was extracted from Streptomyces erythreus. Clarithromycin, on the other hand, is not a pure extraction of the said organism. It is a semi-synthetic macrolide.

For the brief history, erythromycin was discovered first in 1952 from Streptomyces erythreus. Clarithromycin was formulated by Taisho Pharmaceuticals in Japan during the 1970’s which is a semi-synthetic form of erythromycin.

Erythromycin is indicated for infections caused by certain microorganisms such as upper respiratory infections, lower respiratory tract infections, whooping cough, diphtheria, primary syphilis, legionnaire’s disease and a lot more. Clarithromycin, on the other hand, is indicated for moderate and mild infections such as pharyngitis, tonsillitis, community acquired pneumonia, and a lot more. Clarithromycin is said to be better in fighting a wide range of infections than erythromycin because it is superior against gram positive bacterial strains than erythromycin.

Clarithromycin is said to be more tolerable than erythromycin. Clarithromycin has also less gastrointestinal side effects compared to erythromycin.


1.Erythromycin was discovered first than clarithromycin.
2.Erythromycin is a pure antibiotic derived from a certain microorganism while clarithromycin is a semi-synthetic macrolide antibiotic.
3.Clarithromycin is more superior in fighting illnesses caused by gram-positive bacteria than erythromycin.
4.Clarithromycin is more tolerable than erythromycin.
5.Clarithromycin has fewer stomach side effects than erythromycin.

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  1. I’m a Wikipedia editor/contributor and generally go there for info. My search was for “gram negative vs. gram positive”, and since my inquiry was a “difference” question, I thought that I’d check you out. The article on that subject was informative, although slightly technically dense, but comprehensible. I followed one of the suggested links to this one, which appears to have been written by someone who is not a native speaker of colloquial American -English. C’mon Editors Of This Site, edit!

  2. Good day sir,
    Sir, I have been diagnosed, urine culture test, that yielded moderate growth of staphylococcus aureus after 24 hours of incubation at,37’c.
    Sensitive To: Ciprofloxacin,# erythromycin.

    Resistance To:: cotrimoxazde, cloxcacillin, clindamycin

    I brought erythromycin and I have been using it, still no improvement,
    I have been suffering this illness for years now, each time I take medication, it will go and later it comes back again even worst than before,
    Sir, what will I do? Am in serious pains.
    Is any drugs you can prescribe for me. Please help me. Thanks

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