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Carbapenems

By

Brian J. Werth

, PharmD, University of Washington School of Pharmacy

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020
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Carbapenems are broad-spectrum antibiotics. That is, they are effective against many types of bacteria, including bacteria that are resistant to many other antibiotics.

Carbapenems include the following:

  • Doripenem

  • Ertapenem

  • Imipenem

  • Meropenem

Carbapenems must be given by injection. They are often used with aminoglycosides Aminoglycosides Aminoglycosides are a class of antibiotics used to treat serious bacterial infections, such as those caused by gram-negative bacteria (especially Pseudomonas aeruginosa). Aminoglycosides include... read more to treat some infections because using them together enhances the effectiveness of both antibiotics.

Imipenem is always given in combination with other drugs cilastatin and sometimes also relebactam. Cilastatin and relebactam are not antibiotics. They help prolong the effect of imipenem by protecting it from being broken down.

Some bacteria have an outer covering (cell wall) that protects them. Like other beta-lactam antibiotics, carbapenems work by preventing bacteria from forming this cell wall, resulting in death of the bacteria.

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Use of Carbapenems During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

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