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Carbapenems

By

Brian J. Werth

, PharmD, University of Washington School of Pharmacy

Last full review/revision Jun 2022| Content last modified Jun 2022
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
Topic Resources

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... read more to treat some infections because using them together enhances the effectiveness of both antibiotics.

Imipenem is always given in combination with another drug 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.

Table

Carbapenems

Drug

Common Uses

Some Potential Side Effects

Doripenem

Ertapenem

Imipenem-cilastatin

Imipenem-cilastatin-relebactam

Meropenem

Meropenem-vaborbactam

Infections due to susceptible bacteria resistant to other antibiotics

Uncommonly, seizures (risk is slightly higher with imipenem)

Confusion

Rarely, an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to penicillin

Use of Carbapenems During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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