The difference between antibiotic and antimicrobial

anti-infectives-poster-The terms antimicrobial and antibiotic encompass a wide variety of pharmaceutical agents that include antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic drugs. But what is the difference between antibiotic and antimicrobial substances?


  • Antibiotics are used to kill microbes (literally ‘life’)
  • Antimicrobials are used to kill or prevent further growth of microbes,
  • antibacterials are used to kill or prevent further growth bacteria,
  • antivirals are used to treat viral infections,
  • antifungal are used to kill or prevent further growth of fungi
  • and antiparasitic act against parasites

Note: viruses are not living organisms, Antibiotics will have no effect! (in fact generally the term antibiotics is used for substances that (only) have a antibacterial effect. NEVER use these drugs without consulting a doctor! 

Although real targeted medicine practice against infection started with the clinical use of sulfanilamide in 1936. The “golden age” of antimicrobial therapy began with the production of penicillin in1941. Many potentially fatal infections have been cured since. However, at the same time, antimicrobials have also become number 1 among the most misused medicines of those available to the practicing physician. This clinical misuse (among other practices) have led to the emergence of resistant pathogens, which in turn has created an ever-increasing need for new drugs and faster detection on the antimicrobial susceptibility of the infecting pathogen.


Interesting links:


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