Telithromycin tablets for infection (Ketek)

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Take two tablets each day. Take them together, preferably at bedtime.

A usual course of treatment lasts 5-10 days. It is important to complete the full course.

Taking telithromycin may affect your ability to drive, so do not drive or use tools or machines until you know how you react.

The most common side-effects are diarrhoea, and feeling sick or dizzy. Occasionally telithromycin can also cause liver problems - contact your doctor straightaway if you develop persistent sickness and jaundice or dark urine.

Type of medicineA ketolide antibiotic
Used forBacterial infections (in adults and children over 12 years)
Also calledKetek®
Available asTablets

Telithromycin is prescribed to treat acute chest and throat infections, especially when the infection is caused by bacteria which other antibiotics are not able to treat. It can be taken by adults and children over 12 years of age. It works by killing the bacteria causing the infection.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking telithromycin it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have any problems with your liver or kidneys.
  • If you know you have heart disease or an unusual heart rhythm.
  • If you have a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
  • If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines. It is particularly important that you tell your doctor if you are taking a statin medicine for high cholesterol.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this antibiotic, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about telithromycin and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take telithromycin exactly as your doctor tells you to. Take two tablets at the same time, once a day. You can take the tablets before or after food. Taking your dose at bedtime may help reduce side-effects such as dizziness and fainting.
  • Swallow telithromycin tablets whole - do not chew or break them to help you swallow. Most people find it helps to take them with a drink of water.
  • Your doctor will tell you how long you should take the tablets for. Even if you feel your infection has cleared up, keep taking the antibiotic until the course is finished. This is to prevent the infection from coming back. It is usual for a course of treatment to last 5-10 days. If you still feel unwell after finishing the course, go back to see your doctor.
  • Try not to miss any doses. If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, but do not take two doses at the same time.
  • Telithromycin can cause fainting, dizziness and eyesight problems which can affect your ability to drive, even after just one dose. Do not drive or use tools or machines until you know how you react.
  • Some people develop thrush (redness and itching in the mouth or vagina) after taking a course of antibiotics. If you think you have thrush speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking telithromycin.
  • Telithromycin may stop the oral typhoid vaccine from working. If you are having any vaccinations, make sure the person treating you knows that you are taking this medicine.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with this antibiotic.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with telithromycin. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common telithromycin side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
DiarrhoeaDrink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. If the diarrhoea continues, becomes severe, or contains blood, let your doctor know straightaway
Feeling or being sick, stomach ache, wind, and indigestionStick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals
Blurred vision, feeling faint or dizzyIf this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines. Try taking your tablets at bedtime
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Unusual tasteThis will pass after you finish the tablets

Important: if you feel sick and become jaundiced (your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow), or your urine turns a darker colour than normal, speak with your doctor straightaway. These are signs that a problem may be developing in your liver.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct light and heat.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Ketek® 400 mg tablets; Sanofi, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated May 2011.
  • British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
3841 (v25)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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