A 51 year old female developed a skeletal muscle myopathy after 3 months of pivampicillin therapy. Pivampicillin can cause carnitine deficiency due to the pivalic acid side group. Plasma carnitine content and the patients symptoms failed to improve significantly on discontinuing the drug. Oral carnitine replacement therapy was administered for 6 weeks but the patient's plasma carnitine levels responded only slowly to this treatment. It is suggested that pivampicillin inhibits uptake of carnitine from the gut and may either directly or indirectly depress endogenous carnitine synthesis. In such cases a more aggressive carnitine replacement regime is indicated and pivampicillin should be avoided in patients requiring long-term antibiotic administration.
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