Carbapenem antibiotics or Carbapenems are a class of potent broad-spectrum beta-lactam antibiotics. They are effective against a number of pathogenic bacteria from both Gram-positive and Gram-negative groups as opposed to narrow-spectrum antibiotics which work only against Gram-positive or Gram-negative bacteria but not both. They are known to be particularly effective against Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae although health authorities and medical community have been expressing concern about the increasing incidence of Carbapenem-resistant strains. If Carbapenem-resistance will continue to spread, new types of Carbapenems will need to be developed to prevent potentially fatal complications of bacterial infections.
Examples of Carbapenems
There are several different Carbapenems. Some of the most widely used ones include:
Imipenem. Developed in 1980 by Merck, Imipenem is a broad-spectrum Carbapenem antibiotic that is effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. It is most often used for treating infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterococcus bacteria. However, many bacteria have developed resistance to the drug to certain degrees. MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) for example doesn’t react to this Carbapenem antibiotic any longer.
Meropenem. This antibiotic was discovered and patented by Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma. It is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat a wide range of infections by both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. In comparison to Imipenem, Meropenem is more effective for Gram-negative bacteria of the Enterobacteriaceae family but it isn’t as effective for infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria.
Ertapenem. Another Merck-discovered Carbapenem is similar to both Imipenem and Meropenem but in comparison to these two and other Carbapenems, Ertapenem has a slightly narrower spectrum. But while other Carbapenems have to be administered every 6-8 hours, Ertapenem is administered every 24 hours.
Doripenem. Also known as doripenem monohydrate, this Carbapenem antibiotic was developed by Shionogi Co. and approved for clinical use in the mid-2000s. Like the majority of other Carbapenems, Doripenem is administered by an injection as well. It is most often used for treatment of complicated abdominal infections, hospital-acquired pneumonia and severe urinary tract infections. Doripenem is also one of the most effective treatments for infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Carbapenems are used as the last resort antibiotics which means that they are used only when alternative options have failed to achieve any noticeable results. But they may also be prescribed to patients with severe infections in order to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.