What is sulfamethoxazole, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Sulfamethoxazole is an anti- bacterial sulfonamide. It prevents the formation of dihydrofolic acid, a compound that bacteria must be able to make in order to survive. Although it was once a very useful antibiotic, it is almost obsolete as a single agent today due to the development of bacterial resistance to its effects. Sulfamethoxazole is now used primarily in combination with trimethoprim, a combination product known as Bactrim or Septra.

Sulfamethoxazole may be used to treat acute, recurrent or chronic urinary tract infections (primarily pyelonephritis, pyelitis and cystitis) due to susceptible organisms (usually E. coli, Klebsiella-Enterobacter, staphylococcus, Proteus mirabilis and, less frequently, Proteus vulgaris) in the absence of obstructive uropathy or foreign bodies.

Meningococcal meningitis prophylaxis when sulfonamide-sensitive group A strains are known to prevail in family groups or larger closed populations. (The prophylactic usefulness of sulfonamides when group B or C infections are prevalent has not been proven and in closed population groups may be harmful.)

Acute otitis media due to Haemophilus influenzae when used concomitantly with adequate doses of penicillin.

Trachoma. Inclusion conjunctivitis. Nocardiosis. Chancroid. Toxoplasmosis as adjunctive therapy with pyrimethamine. Malaria due to chloroquine-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum, when used as adjunctive therapy.

Sulfamethoxazole was approved by the FDA in 1961. According to the FDA database, all brand and generic formulations of sulfamethoxazole have been discontinued.

Is sulfamethoxazole available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for sulfamethoxazole?