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Generic Name: ampicillin sodium
Product Name: Ampicyn

Indication: What Ampicyn is used for

Ampicyn is an antibiotic used to treat infections in different parts of the body caused by bacteria.

It will not work against infections caused by viruses, such as colds or the flu.

Your doctor may have prescribed Ampicyn for another reason. Ask your doctor why it has been prescribed for you.

This medicine is available only with a doctor’s prescription.

There is no evidence that Ampicyn is addictive.

Action: How Ampicyn works

Ampicyn is an antibiotic that belongs to a group of medicines called penicillins. These antibiotics work by killing the bacteria that are causing your infection.

Ampicillin is bactericidal and is active against a wider range of organisms than benzylpenicillin. It is less active than benzylpenicillin against Gram-positive organisms but is active in vitro against Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A, β-haemolytic Streptococci) and many strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae (D. pneumonia), Streptococcus viridans, non-penicillinase producing Staphylococci and Enterococcus faecalis (Group D Streptococci). There are strains of Escherichia coli that are sensitive to ampicillin, but isolates are becoming increasingly resistant in vitro due to the presence of penicillinase-producing strains. Some of the above organisms are sensitive to ampicillin only at concentrations achieved in the urine. Many strains of Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitidis, Proteus mirabilis and Salmonellae are sensitive to ampicillin, although the increasing incidence of beta-lactamase activity in H. influenzae and E. coli are reducing the capacity of ampicillin to treat diseases caused by these organisms.

Ampicillin is not effective against penicillinase producing bacteria, particularly resistant Staphylococci, which are now common. All strains of Pseudomonas, indole-positive Proteus, Serratia marcescens, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Citrobacter and penicillinase producing Neisseria gonorrhoeae are resistant.

Like benzylpenicillin, ampicillin is bactericidal to sensitive organisms during the stage of active cell division. It is believed to act through the inhibition of cell wall synthesis.

Ampicyn contains 1g of the active ingredient ampicillin sodium.

It does not contain gluten, lactose, sucrose, tartrazine or any other azo dyes.

Dose advice: How to use Ampicyn

Before you are given Ampicyn

When you must not be given it

Do not use Ampicyn if:

  • You have an allergy to Ampicyn or other penicillins. Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction may include skin rash, itching and difficulty breathing;
  • You have had an allergic reaction to cephalosporins. You may have an increased chance of being allergic to Ampicyn if you are allergic to cephalosporins;
  • The packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering;
  • The expiry date on the pack has passed. If you take it after the expiry date, it may have no effect at all, or worse, an unexpected effect.

If you are not sure whether you should be given Ampicyn, talk to your doctor.

Before you are given it

You must tell your doctor if:

  • You have an allergy to Ampicyn or any other penicillin;
  • You have any type of allergic reaction to cephalosporin medicines. You may have an increased chance of being allergic to Ampicyn if you are allergic to cephalosporins;
  • You have any allergies to any other medicines or any other substances, such as foods, preservatives or dyes. This may include medicines that you buy without a prescription from your pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop;
  • You have or have ever had any other health problems/medical conditions, including asthma, kidney or liver disease;
  • You are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of using Ampicyn during pregnancy;
  • You are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of using Ampicyn when breastfeeding.

If you have not told your doctor about any of the above, tell them before you are given Ampicyn.

Taking other medicines

Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, including medicines that you buy without a prescription from your pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop. Some medicines may interfere with Ampicyn. These include probenecid (Benemid) and some antibiotics e.g. tetracyclines, erythromycin and chloramphenicol.

These medicines may be affected by Ampicyn, or may affect how well it works. You may need different amounts of your medicine, or you may need to take different medicines. Your doctor or pharmacist has more information on medicines to be careful with or avoid whilst receiving Ampicyn.

Some antibiotics may decrease the effectiveness of some birth control pills. Talk to your doctor about the need for an additional method of contraception whilst receiving Ampicyn.

How it is given

Ampicyn may be given in two ways:

  • As a slow injection into a vein;
  • As a deep injection into a large muscle, a joint or the sac surrounding the lung.

Ampicyn must only be given by a doctor or nurse.

Your doctor will decide what dose and for how long you will receive Ampicyn. This depends on your infection and other factors, such as your weight. For most infections, Ampicyn is usually given in divided doses throughout the day.

To reduce microbial contamination, each Ampicyn vial is used only once. Any remaining contents must be discarded.

If you have too much (overdose)

This rarely happens as Ampicyn is administered under the care of a highly trained doctor. However, if you are given too much Ampicyn, you may experience some of the side effects listed under ‘Side Effects’ below. Your doctor has information on how to recognise and treat an overdose. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns. A very large overdose of Ampicyn can cause brain upsets including fits.

After you have been given it

Things you must do

If the symptoms of your infection do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, tell your doctor.

If you develop itching with swelling or skin rash or difficulty breathing after you have been given Ampicyn, contact your doctor immediately.

If you get severe diarrhoea tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately. Do this even if it occurs several weeks after Ampicyn has been stopped. Diarrhoea may mean that you have a serious condition affecting your bowel. You may need urgent medical care.

Do not take any diarrhoea medicine without first checking with your doctor.

If you get a sore white mouth or tongue after you have been given Ampicyn, tell your doctor. Also, tell your doctor if you get vaginal itching or discharge. This may mean you have a fungal infection called thrush. Sometimes the use of Ampicyn allows fungi to grow and the above symptoms to occur. Ampicyn does not work against fungi.

If you become pregnant while you are receiving Ampicyn, tell your doctor.

If you have to have any tests tell your doctor you have been given Ampicyn. Ampicyn may affect the results of some tests.

Tell any doctor, dentist or pharmacist who is treating you that you have been given Ampicyn.

Things to be careful of

Be careful driving or operating machinery until you know how Ampicyn affects you. Ampicyn generally does not cause any problems with your ability to drive a car or operate machinery. However, as with many other medicines, Ampicyn may cause dizziness, drowsiness or tiredness in some people.


Ampicyn will be stored in the pharmacy or on the ward. Ampicyn powder for injection is kept in a cool dry place, protected from light, where the temperature stays below 25°C.

Ampicyn is not to be given after the expiry date on the label.

Schedule of Ampicyn

Ampicyn is an S4 (prescription only) medicine.

Side effects of Ampicyn

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if you have any problems whilst receiving Ampicyn, even if you do not think the problems are connected with the medicine or are not listed here. Like other medicines, Ampicyn can cause some side effects. If they occur, most are likely to be minor and temporary. However, some may be serious and need medical attention.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist to answer any questions you may have.

Whilst being given it

Tell your doctor immediately or go to casualty at your nearest hospital if you notice any of the following:

  • A severe rash;
  • Wheezing;
  • Irregular heartbeat;
  • Feeling faint.

If you are suffering from glandular fever or some other more serious blood complaints, it is very common to develop a rash if you are given Ampicyn. The rash will disappear after the Ampicyn is stopped.

Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Pain or redness at the site of injection;
  • Oral thrush – white, furry, sore tongue and mouth;
  • Vaginal thrush – sore and itchy vagina and/or discharge;
  • A mild rash.

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. These include very rare cases of brain, blood and kidney disease.

After finishing it

Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following side effects, particularly if they occur several weeks after finishing treatment with Ampicyn:

  • Severe abdominal cramps or stomach cramps;
  • Watery and severe diarrhoea, which may also be bloody;
  • Fever, in combination with one or both of the above.

These are rare but serious side effects. Ampicyn can change bacteria (which are normally present in the bowel and normally harmless) to multiply and therefore cause the above symptoms. You may need urgent medical attention.

Do not take any diarrhoea medicine without first checking with your doctor.

An illness consisting of a rash, swollen glands, joint pains, and fever may occur about a week after the treatment.

Tell your doctor if you notice any side effects.

This is not a complete list of all possible side effects. Others may occur in some people and there may be some side effects not yet known. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are concerned.

For further information talk to your doctor.


  1. Ampicyn Consumer Medicine Information (CMI). Millers Point, NSW: Alphapharm Pty Limited. May 2015. [PDF]
  2. Ampicyn Product Information (PI). Millers Point, NSW: Alphapharm Pty Limited. May 2015. [PDF]

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Posted On: 22 July, 2003
Modified On: 26 September, 2018
Reviewed On: 26 September, 2018


Created by: myVMC