Compare Biaxin vs. penicillin

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Biaxin (clarithromycin)

Prescription only
Treats bacterial infections.

Biaxin (clarithromycin) is a good first-choice medicine to treat most common respiratory infections. Side-effects are common, but mild.

Treats bacterial infections.

Penicillin VK (penicillin) is good at treating strep throat and is cheap, however, it can only be used for certain infections as many bacteria have developed resistance to it.

3.9/ 5 average rating with 1297 reviewsforpenicillin
Upsides
  • Good first-choice treatment for respiratory infections.
  • Compared to similar medicines, Biaxin (clarithromycin) is better tolerated.
  • Available as an extended-release pill for convenient once daily dosing and as a liquid for trouble swallowing pills.
  • Children as young as 6 months can use Biaxin (clarithromycin) safely and effectively.
  • Compared to alternatives, Penicillin VK (penicillin) is the preferred choice for treating strep throat infections.
  • This medicine is available as a generic, which is cheap.
  • It’s also available in different forms: pill and liquid.
Downsides
  • Can cause changes in taste.
  • Can cause abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Biaxin (clarithromycin), can interact with other medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist, especially if you are taking medicines for heart problems or gout.
  • If you have kidney or liver problems, Biaxin (clarithromycin) might not be a good option.
  • Many bacteria are resistant to Penicillin VK (penicillin), so it only works for certain infection typically in ear, nose, and throat.
  • Penicillin VK (penicillin) has a bitter taste. Children might not like the taste.
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Extended release pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Price
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Reviews
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1297 reviews so far
71%
saidit'sworth it
52%
saiditworked well
12%
saidit'sa big hassle

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Side effects
7possible side effects
  • Nausea
    12%
  • Vomiting
    8%
  • Abnormal changes in taste
    4%
  • Abdominal pain
    3%
  • Diarrhea
    3%
  • Rash
    3%
  • Headache
    2%
See more detailed side effects
The Penicillin VK (penicillin) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Serious allergic reaction
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
    • History of heart arrhythmias
    • Drugs that cause prolonged QT interval
    • Abnormal electrolytes
    • Elderly
  • Liver toxicity
  • Serious drug interactions
  • Severe diarrhea caused by bacteria
    • Antibiotic use
  • Birth defects
    • Pregnancy
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Diarrhea
    • Taking Penicillin VK (penicillin) for a long time
  • Interaction with birth control pills
  • Allergic reaction
    • History of severe allergic reaction to Penicillin VK (penicillin)
    • Cephalosporin medication allergy
See more detailed risks and warnings
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Disclaimer: We don't provide medical advice. If you think you might have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.