How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Polymyxin b - neomycin – gramicidin eye/ear drops belong to the family of medications known as antibacterials. The compound contains a combination of antibiotics used to treat and prevent certain types of eye and ear infections. This medication works by killing the bacteria that cause these infections.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each mL of eye/ear solution contains: polymyxin B (as sulfate) 10,000 units, gramicidin 0.025 mg, and neomycin (as sulfate) 1.75 mg. Also contains ethyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride 0.005% (as preservative).

How should I use this medication?

The suggested dose of this medication is 1 or 2 drops in the affected eye or ear 2 to 4 times daily, or more frequently as directed by your doctor. Avoid contaminating the dropper by touching it with the fingers, eyes, ears, or other surfaces. Do not wear contact lenses during eye treatment.

Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

This medication should not be used for more than 7 days without medical supervision.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, use it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not use a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use polymyxin – neomycin -gramicidin eye/ear drops if you:

  • are allergic to polymyxin b, neomycin, gramicidin, or to any of the ingredients of the medication
  • are allergic to any other medications in the class of medications known as aminoglycosides (e.g., gentamicin)
  • are using the drop solution for the ear and you have, or may have, a rupture (i.e., a hole) in your eardrum, or if you have chronic ear infections
  • are using the drops in the eye during surgical eye procedures or before eye surgery
  • have deafness caused by nerve damage

This medication should not be used for children younger than 2 years of age.

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • itching, pain, rash, swelling, redness, or other sign of irritation not present before use of this medication

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • itching, swelling, or redness of the eye not present before starting the medication
  • loss of hearing
  • stinging and burning inside the ear

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Allergic reactions: Polymyxin b – neomycin -gramicidin eye/ear drops may cause the area being treated to become more sensitive. If you experience itching, dry skin, reddening, and swelling of the area being treated, stop using this medication and contact your doctor.

Contact lenses: Avoid wearing contact lenses if you are using the drops for the eye.

Length of treatment: This medication should not be used for more than 7 days without medical supervision. Prolonged use of this medication may cause overgrowth of other bacteria or fungi. Contact your doctor if you do not see improvement after one week of treatment or if your condition worsens.

For eye infections, treatment should be continued until at least 48 hours after the eye infection has gone.

Do not use this medication again for at least 3 months to reduce the possibility of bacteria becoming resistant to the medication, and experiencing more severe adverse effects of the medication. If you get another eye or ear infection before 3 months, contact your doctor.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while using this medication, stop using it and contact your doctor.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if polymyxin b - neomycin – gramicidin eye/ear drops pass into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children younger than 2 years of age.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between polymyxin - neomycin – gramicidin eye/ear drops and any of the following:

  • neuromuscular blocking agents (e.g., tubocurarine, pancuronium)

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.