Chloramphenicol is rapidly and completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is not affected by food ingestion or metal ions. Parenteral administration is generally reserved for situations in which oral therapy is contraindicated, as in the treatment of meningitis and septicemia or when vomiting prohibits oral administration. The biological half-life of chloramphenicol is 1.5 to
3.5 hours. Although up to 60% of the drug is bound to serum albumin, it penetrates the brain and CSF and crosses the placental barrier.
Chloramphenicol is inactivated in the liver by glu-curonosyltransferase and is rapidly excreted (80-90% of dose) in the urine. About 5 to 10% of the administered drug is excreted unchanged. Renal elimination is by tubular secretion and glomerular filtration. Other degradation pathways are known to exist and may account for some of the toxicity seen in neonates and children.
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