What is Novobiocin?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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Novobiocin is an antibiotic originating in Streptomyces bacteria. When researchers first identified this compound, they also developed techniques for producing it synthetically in a lab setting. This is common with antibiotics of bacterial origin because it allows pharmaceutical companies to control the means of production carefully for safety and reliability reasons. This antibiotic is approved for both human and animal use, and availability varies, depending on the region.

The antibiotic works by attacking the systems used for cellular energy in bacteria. Without adequate energy transport, bacteria stop reproducing and die off. Novobiocin is effective against a range of gram positive bacteria, including organisms with antibiotic resistance. In many regions, drug companies have withdrawn the versions of this medication used to treat humans, although veterinary preparations are still available.

A doctor can prescribe novobiocin for a patient with an infection potentially susceptible to this antibiotic, such as a hospital-acquired infection resistant to other drugs. The dosage depends on the weight of the patient. Like other antibiotics, novobiocin can cause gastrointestinal upset, and patients may feel nauseous or develop diarrhea while on the drug. They should recover quickly after the course of medication is over and the body has had a chance to completely metabolize the antibiotics.


The drug can potentially interact poorly with other medications. Patients with liver or kidney disease may not be good candidates for novobiocin therapy, as their bodies are less able to metabolize the antibiotic. Before a doctor prescribes a medication, patients should go over their medical records and discuss any medications they are taking. This includes over-the-counter medications and herbal preparations, as these sometimes interact poorly with prescription drugs. If the side effects become intolerable, alternative medications may be available, or patients can be given drugs to manage the side effects, like antinausea medication.

In veterinary settings, novobiocin can be used on large and small animals, and may be part of combination therapy for infection or preventative treatment when a herd appears to be developing an infection. For livestock, farmers usually mix the antibiotic with feed and distribute it to the herd. Oral suspensions and tablets are available for dosing on a smaller scale. Drug companies may use different formulations and fillers for human and animal use, and for this reason, it is not advisable to use veterinary drugs for humans and vice versa, unless a care provider specifically says this is safe and recommends it.


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Post 2

@bagley79 - I had a similar situation using Novobiocin, only this was with myself. This was once prescribed for me for a urinary tract infection.

Usually when I start taking an antibiotic for something like this, I begin to feel better right away. When I started taking this, nothing happened and I still felt bad 3 days later.

Come to find out, this was not a very effective antibiotic for me for a urinary tract infection. I didn't have an allergic reaction to it, but needed to be prescribed a different antibiotic to take care of my infection.

I am thankful for antibiotics as they usually do a great job of getting rid of the bad bacteria, but you also have to be careful with them. It sounds like you have to be just as careful when using these with your pets as you do yourself.

Post 1

The only reason I am familiar with this medication is because my vet prescribed this for my dog who had an infection.

I would not have thought anything about it if my dog had not had a reaction to it. A couple days after giving this to her, she would not eat and seemed very lethargic.

When I took her back to the vet, she also had a fever and he said she was having a reaction to this antibiotic.

He prescribed another one for her, and she was fine after that. I don't know why, but I am always amazed at some of the same medications that are used on animals and humans.

Just like us, you never know if they are going to have a strange reaction to a drug or not.

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