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INTRODUCTION

Antibacterial agents are among the most commonly prescribed drugs worldwide and can be lifesaving when used appropriately. However, their indiscriminate use (estimated at ∼50% of all antibiotic use) drives up the cost of health care, leads to a plethora of side effects and drug interactions, and fosters the emergence of bacterial resistance, rendering previously valuable drugs useless.

MECHANISMS OF DRUG ACTION

Antibacterial agents act on unique targets not found in mammalian cells. Bactericidal drugs kill bacteria within their spectrum of activity; bacteriostatic drugs inhibit bacterial growth. Table 86-1 summarizes the mechanisms of action of commonly used antibacterial drugs.

TABLE 86-1MECHANISMS OF ACTION OF AND RESISTANCE TO MAJOR CLASSES OF ANTIBACTERIAL AGENTS

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