, Volume 63, Issue 14, pp 1511–1524

Clinical Role of β-Lactam/β-Lactamase Inhibitor Combinations

Review Article

DOI: 10.2165/00003495-200363140-00006

Cite this article as:
Lee, N., Yuen, K. & Kumana, C.R. Drugs (2003) 63: 1511. doi:10.2165/00003495-200363140-00006


The use of β-lactamase inhibitors in combination with β-lactam antibiotics is currently the most successful strategy to combat a specific resistance mechanism. Their broad spectrum of activity originates from the ability of respective inhibitors to inactivate a wide range of β-lactamases produced by Gram-positive, Gram-negative, anaerobic and even acid-fast pathogens. Clinical experience confirms their effectiveness in the empirical treatment of respiratory, intra-abdominal, and skin and soft tissue infections. There is evidence to suggest that they are efficacious in treating patients with neutropenic fever and nosocomial infections, especially in combination with other agents. β-Lactam/β-lactamase inhibitor combinations are particularly useful against mixed infections. Their role in treating various multi-resistant pathogens such as Acinetobacter species and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia are gaining importance. Although, generally, they do not constitute reliable therapy against extended-spectrum β-lactamase producers, their substitution in place of cephalosporins appears to reduce emergence of the latter pathogens. Similarly, their use may also curtail the emergence of other resistant pathogens such as Clostridium difficile and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. β-Lactam/β-lactamase inhibitor combinations are generally well tolerated and their oral forms provide effective outpatient therapy against many commonly encountered infections. In certain scenarios, they could even be more cost-effective than conventional combination therapies. With the accumulation of so much clinical experience, their role in the management of infections is now becoming more clearly defined.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, Queen Mary HospitalUniversity of Hong KongHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology, Queen Mary HospitalUniversity of Hong KongHong Kong