History of Gentamicin

Gentamicin is an aminoglycoside antibiotic that was first discovered in the late 1950s by scientists at the pharmaceutical company Schering Corporation (now part of Merck & Co.). It was first approved for use in the United States in 1963 and has since become a widely used antibiotic for the treatment of a variety of bacterial infections, including those caused by gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Gentamicin is also used to treat serious infections such as sepsis and meningitis. However, because of the potential for toxicity and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it is now typically used in conjunction with other antibiotics or as a last resort when other options have failed.

The specific individuals who were involved in the discovery of gentamicin have not been widely reported and may not be publicly available. However, it is known that the discovery was made by a team of scientists working in the company’s laboratories.

I could not find any specific controversy related to the discovery of gentamicin. It is a widely used antibiotic and was approved for use in the United States in 1963. However, as with any drug, there have been concerns and controversies related to the use of gentamicin. For example, gentamicin is known to cause toxicity in the kidneys and ears, which can lead to hearing loss and kidney damage. This has led to the development of guidelines for the use of gentamicin in order to minimize these side effects. Additionally, the overuse and misuse of gentamicin and other antibiotics has contributed to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is a major public health concern.

It is available both as a generic drug and under various brand names. Because of its efficacy against a wide range of bacterial infections, it is included in the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, which is a list of the most important medication needed in a basic health system. Therefore, it is likely to be licensed and available in most countries that have a functioning healthcare system.

Gentamicin was first licensed for use in the UK in the early 1960s. The drug was first approved by the British National Formulary (BNF) in 1968. The BNF is a reference book that contains information on the use of drugs in the UK, and is updated regularly by the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in UK provides guidelines on the use of gentamicin. According to the current NICE guidelines, gentamicin should be used in combination with other antibiotics, rather than as monotherapy, in order to minimize the risk of antibiotic resistance. NICE recommends that gentamicin should be used for the treatment of serious infections such as sepsis and meningitis, and as a last resort when other options have failed.

NICE also recommends that blood levels of gentamicin should be monitored in patients who are at increased risk of toxicity, such as those with kidney impairment or the elderly. They also recommend that the duration of treatment should be as short as possible and the lowest possible dose should be used to minimize the risk of adverse effects.

It is important to note that NICE guidelines are subject to review and updates, so it’s always good to check the most recent version of the guidelines


  1. I have to disagree with the claim that Schering Corporation scientists discovered Gentamicin. The fist patent states that it was discovered in soil samples provided by Americo Woyciesjes, my uncle. I visited his lab several times where he had hundreds of small bottles of soil from around the world from which he tested isolated pure, colorful molds. He showed me how he isolated and tested these pure specimens in petri dishes for their ability to destroy sampled diseases. One of these yielded Gentamicin. He negotiated with Schering Corporation for rights to develop the drug, hoping for recognition for the discovery and royalties but the negotiation was apparently “mishandled” by his attorney and Americo ended up with a single payment and only Corporation scientists were listed as inventors. Of course, you will consider that I was a teenager at the time, but I heard this from “Uncle Rico”, Michael, his brother and lab assistant, and my father. There are two related court cases where Americo challenged Schering Corporation and his attorney that were dismissed “based on the Statute of Limitations” (WOYCIESJES v. SCHERING-PLOUGH CORP.).

    1. Most interesting. Haven’t managed to independently corroborate this because Google cannot provide a direct link to the article cited.

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