What is Penicillin? Facts and Information

What is Penicillin?

  • The name ‘penicillin’ describes a group of antibiotics derived from Penicillium fungi.
  • The different types of penicillin are: penicillin G, penicillin V, procaine penicillin and benzathine penicillin.
  • Simplistically put, penicillin prevents bacteria from growing and dividing by causing them to shed their cells walls.

What is Penicillin Used For?

  • Even though there exist many forms of penicillin-resistant bacteria, penicillin is still used to treat a massive range of infections caused by bacteria.
  •  Penicillin G, usually injected into the patient, is used to treat syphilis, meningitis, pneumonia and septicaemia.
  • Penicillin V (or Phenoxymethylpenicillin), usually taken orally, is used to treat tonsillitis, pharyngitis, skin infections, spleen disorders, some cases of anthrax, early stage Lyme disease, and rheumatic fever.
  • Penicillin does have some side effects. Many patients will experience diarrhoea, nausea, rashes or hypersensitivity after taking penicillin.


Who Discovered Penicillin?

  • Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin by accident. He noticed that is Penicillium rubens is allowed to grow in an appropriate substrate it produces an antibiotic substance.
  • Howard Walter Florey, Ernst Chain and Norman Heatley all contributed to building on Fleming’s discovery and developing penicillin for medical purposes.
  • Dorothy Hodgkin determined penicillin’s chemical structure.