Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Doxycycline Now Favored for Anthrax Exposure

WebMD Health News

Oct. 31, 2001 -- Doctors have been relying on Cipro to combat the anthrax threat, but now U.S. health officials are turning to an older and cheaper antibiotic -- doxycycline.

Their decision was based on the fact that the particular anthrax strains that thousands have been exposed to -- and four have died from -- are killed by doxycycline. Federal health officials say the decision was based not on cost but on the potential threat of bacterial resistance from continued use of Cipro when it's not needed.

Cipro is used for a variety of illnesses, including serious urinary tract infections and pneumonia. With continued use of Cipro by thousands of anthrax-exposed people, we run the risk that this potent antibiotic will cease working for these other infections due to emergence of resistant bacteria. This could become a very serious public health crisis all its own.

Also, Cipro can cause a host of side effects in some people.

If doxycycline-resistant anthrax strains surface in the future, the government will then need to resort to Cipro again.

The FDA is also making sure that doctors and health officials are aware that doxycycline and penicillin are approved for treating anthrax and preventing the illness after exposure to infectious spores.

Like Cipro, doxycycline is a pill that must be taken twice a day for 60 days. The form of penicillin that is approved for treating anthrax, called "penicillin G," is a twice-daily shot -- also taken for 60 days -- and is less likely to be used after anthrax exposure. Penicillin G may be particularly useful in pregnant women and children, since it is thought to be safer for these people than either doxycycline or Cipro.

Health officials are still strongly discouraging individuals from taking any antibiotic for prevention of anthrax without the specific advice of a doctor.

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing