P-lactams, the structure of which contains a p-

lactam ring. The major subdivisions are:

(a) penicillins whose official names usually include or end in 'cillin'

(b) cephalosporins and cephamycins which are recognised by the inclusion of 'cef' or 'ceph' in their official names. In the UK recently all these names have been standardised to begin with 'cef'.

Tetracyclines as the name suggests are four-ringed structures and their names end in '-cycline'.

Macrolides: e.g. erythromycin. Clindamycin, structurally a lincosamide, has a similar action and overlapping antibacterial activity.

Other drugs that act by inhibiting protein synthesis include quinupristin-dalfopristin, linezolid, chloramphenicol and sodium fusidate.

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