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Information @ a Glance


  • Chloramphenicol is a bacteriostatic antimicrobial originally derived from the bacterium Streptomyces venezuelae.

  • It was the first antibiotic to be manufactured synthetically on a large scale. Chloramphenicol is effective against a wide variety of microorganisms.

  • Chloramphenicol can easily pass deeply through purulent material to the organisms hiding within, through cell membranes to attack parasites living within, and into organs where other antibiotics cannot go.


  • Typically, the three basic steps used in the majority of methods of analysis for chloramphenicol are: Preparation of the primary extract of the sample; Purification of the primary extract; Detection and quantification of residues of chloramphenicol.

  • There are numerous procedures used to purify the primary extract in order to remove substances interfering with the detection and quantification step. Solid phase extraction is the most widely used technique for purification in the analysis of residues of chloramphenicol in food matrices.

Mechanism of Action

  • Chloramphenicol inhibits protein syntheis in bacteria and to a lesser extent in eukaryotic cells. The drug readily penetrates bacterial cells, probably by facilitated diffusion.

  • Chloramphenicol also can inhibit mitochondrial protein synthesis in mammalian cells, perhaps because mitochondrial ribosomes resemble bacterial ribosomes more than they do the 80 S cytoplasmic ribosomes of mammalian cells.


  • Chloramphenicol exists as white to grayish-white or yellowish-white fine crystalline powder, needles, or elongated plates, with a melting point of 150.5C to 151.5C.

  • Chloramphenicol is soluble in water, chloroform, and ether, and very soluble in propylene glycol, 50% acetamide, methanol, ethanol, butanol, ethyl acetate, and acetone. It is insoluble in benzene, petroleum ether, and vegetable oils.


  • Chloramphenicol is an antimicrobial agent with restricted use, because it causes blood dyscrasia. It is used to combat serious infections for which other antibiotics are either ineffective or contraindicated. It can be used against gram-positive cocci and bacilli and gram-negative aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.

  • It is currently used in eye ointments to treat superficial ocular infections involving the conjunctiva or cornea, in topical ointments to treat the external ear or skin, in various tablets for oral administration, and in intravenous suspensions to treat internal infections.

  • Chloramphenicol has been used to treat protozoa infections in animals. Chloramphenicol is used in both dogs and cats to treat a variety of bacterial infections, including skin infections, wound infections, bone infections, infections of the central nervous system (encephalitis, meningitis), pneumonia, and infections of the intestinal tract (such as diarrhea).


  • The US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) is all set to announce a chloramphenicol testing protocol, which will be posted on the agency's Website so as to allow interested parties to follow the new procedure in their own laboratories. Chloramphenicol as described by the USFDA is a potent broad-spectrum antibiotic drug used only as therapeutic doses for treatment of serious infections in humans. The agency is testing for chloramphenicol using a sensitivity of 0.3 ppb.

  • Chloramphenicol can produce two distinctive types of bone marrow suppression. Chloramphenicol interferes with the actions of several bactericidal drugs, such as penicillins, cephalosporins and aminoglycosides.

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