Doxycycline vs. Minocycline

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to go over some of the similarities and differences between two medications called doxycycline and minocycline. You'll learn differences such as their time to peak action and labeled uses.

Doxycycline vs. Minocycline

One of the deadliest bacterial diseases we know of is anthrax. And you better hope there is a way to treat it. Luckily, there is! Two of the medications that might be used to treat this deadly disease are called doxycycline and minocycline. Let's find out more about their differences in this lesson.

Fundamental Considerations

Brand Names

In the U.S., some of the brand name medications that include doxycycline include Acticlate, Adoxa, Monodox, and Vibramycin. Similarly, some of the brand name medications that contain minocycline include Minocin and Solodyn.


So what are these medications? Both of them are antibiotics, medications that target bacteria. And both of them belong to a class of antibiotics known as tetracyclines. You can easily remember this by spotting the fact that both end in '-cycline', which is also the suffix of tetracycline.

Mechanism of Action

They each work as protein synthesis inhibitors. Specifically, they bind with the 30S and potentially the 50S ribosomal subunits of the cell in order to stop the production of proteins.

Specific Considerations


You already learned in the intro that both of these medications can be used to treat anthrax. They both can also be used to treat many other conditions, like acne and cholera. However, some of their labeled uses don't overlap. For instance, doxycycline is labeled for the treatment of rosacea. On the flipside, minocycline is labeled for meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis.


Minocycline can be taken with or without food but taking it with food can help minimize the risk of esophageal irritation and ulceration. It should be noted that food can decrease minocycline's absorption.

It's preferable that, when taken orally, doxycycline is taken with meals in order to minimize gastrointestinal upset. That being said, the food shouldn't contain high levels of fat, milk, or calcium as this can significantly reduce doxycycline's absorption from the gastrointestinal tract.

Either medication should be taken with adequate amounts of water in an upright position to minimize the risk of the person experiencing esophageal irritation or even ulceration.

Time to Peak Action

When taken orally, immediate release tablets containing doxycycline peak in the person's serum somewhere in between 1.5-4 hours. If the person takes delayed-release tablets containing doxycycline, then it can take at least 2.8 hours to reach peak concentrations.

With respect to minocycline, the time to peak of capsules ranges from 1-4 hours while for tablets it's 1-3 hours. Extended release tablets containing minocycline take at least 3.5 hours to reach peak concentrations.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Both of these medications carry a pregnancy risk category of D. This means they should be used only if absolutely necessary in pregnant women when there is no other viable alternative. One reason for this is that tetracyclines, in general, may harm the developing child and lead to defects in their teeth (e.g. discoloration) and skeletal structures (e.g. limb reduction).

Nevertheless, doxycycline may be recommended for treating Rocky Mountain spotted fever in pregnant women but minocycline is not recommended at all in this scenario.

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