Cefepime

Cefepime is a prescription only drug that is used to treat patients with bacterial infections in any parts of the body.

Overview:

Cefepime is part of a family of drugs called the cephalosporin antibiotics. These drugs work by preventing the growth of bacteria as well as destroying existing bacteria in the body.

Most types of bacteria are healthy and can actually help us to fight all kinds of infections. However, around 1% of bacteria can be harmful to us, creating infections and diseases that we would usually need an antibiotic drug to get rid of. When harmful bacteria get into our bodies, they can quickly reproduce. Some types of bacteria also emit chemicals called toxins, which can damage tissue in the body. Some types of bacteria that can cause infections in the human body include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli.

Cefepime is a strong, short-term treatment option that is not suitable for treating patients with common flu or colds, or any type of viral infections.

It is given in the form of a powder solution, that is then mixed into a liquid to be taken via the intravenous route.

The drug is also known by its brand name Maxipime in the United States.

Conditions treated:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Febrile Neutropenia
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Intra-abdominal Infections
  • Skin / skin structure infections

Type of medication

  • Solution, to be administered as an injection

Side effects

When you start taking this medication, you might experience certain side effects as your body adapts to the drug being inside your system. Most side effects experienced at the beginning of a treatment cycle are perfectly normal, and not usually a cause for concern. It is only if you notice significant changes to your body as a result of taking the medication that you should report this to your doctor. If you notice any of the following, seek medical advice straight away:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction to cefepime, such as difficulty breathing, hives, swelling in the lips, throat, tongue or face
  • Confusion or hallucinations
  • Diarrhea that contains blood or excessive amounts of water
  • Rash of the skin
  • Strange bruising
  • Tingling in any parts of the body
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Body chills or aches
  • Symptoms of the flu
  • Seizures, including blackouts and convulsions
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Red or purple colour to the skin that spreads around the body
  • Blistering or peeling of the skin

There are some side effects that can be fairly common as a result of using cefepime. These are listed below. If any of these symptoms persist for longer than your initial period of taking the medication, let your medical professional know straight away:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or disorientation
  • Diarrhea or change in stools, e.g. lighter stools

Major drug interactions

Before you accept a prescription of cefepime from your doctor, it is important that you discuss any other medications you may be taking. This is because there are some drugs that can react with cefepime, causing potentially dangerous consequences for the body. This is called a drug interaction and usually should be avoided if the risk is deemed to be greater than the health benefit of taking the medication.

Drugs that interact with each other are allocated to one of three categories - mild, moderate or severe interactions. Those with a minor interaction may still be able to be taken together. Moderate drug interactions should be avoided except for in exceptional cases. Major interactions should be avoided at all times.

There are 36 drugs that interact with this medication at one of these three levels. Of these drugs, there is only one that has been deemed to have a major interaction. The generic and brand names are below:

  • Cholera vaccine, live
  • Vaxchora (cholera vaccine, live)

Do not take cefepime if you are taking this drug for any purpose.

The other drugs that have an interaction with cefepime are listed below. You may still be able to take cefepime while taking these drugs if the health benefit is thought to outweigh the risk posed:

  • amikacin
  • ampicillin, probenecid
  • bumetanide
  • chloramphenicol
  • cholecalciferol, genistein, zinc chelazome
  • cholecalciferol, genistein, zinc glycinate
  • colchicine, probenecid
  • desogestrel, ethinyl estradiol
  • drospirenone, ethinyl estradiol
  • drospirenone, ethinyl estradiol, levomefolate calcium
  • ethacrynic acid
  • ethinyl estradiol
  • ethinyl estradiol, ethynodiol
  • ethinyl estradiol, etonogestrel
  • ethinyl estradiol, folic acid, levonorgestrel
  • ethinyl estradiol, levonorgestrel
  • ethinyl estradiol, norelgestromin
  • ethinyl estradiol, norethindrone
  • ethinyl estradiol, norgestimate
  • ethinyl estradiol, norgestrel
  • furosemide
  • gentamicin
  • indium oxyquinoline in-111
  • kanamycin
  • mestranol, norethindrone
  • mycophenolate mofetil
  • mycophenolic acid
  • neomycin
  • netilmicin
  • nimodipine
  • probenecid
  • streptomycin
  • tobramycin
  • torsemide
  • typhoid vaccine, live

Dosage

The dosage of this medication that you will be prescribed will be decided by your doctor and will be in accordance with a number of factors, such as your tolerance to the medication, your body weight and your medical history.

The general initial starting dose for most patients is either one gram or two grams of the solution. Once the solution is mixed, it should be injected into a vein by a trained medical professional.

The dosage may be altered depending on the type of bacterial infection that you have.

Warnings

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

This drug has been given a B rating for use during pregnancy. A B rating means that use may be acceptable in some cases. Animal studies of cefepime have shown there to be minor risks involved with taking this drug during pregnancy; however, there are no human studies available. Usage should be approached with caution and a doctor will be able to judge whether the health benefit to you outweighs the risk posed to the fetus.

The drug has been found to enter breast milk, so it is not generally advised that breastfeeding mothers should take cefepime.

Allergies

It is important that you tell your doctor about any allergies you have, including allergies to pets, dust, medicines, foods or preservatives. There may be allergic reactions that you are prone to that may deem you unsuitable to take this medication.

Other disease and conditions

Before taking this medication, you should first check that it is suitable for use with any other conditions or diseases you might be suffering from. There are certain conditions that can react with this drug, causing undesirable effects on the body and possibly rendering your prescription ineffective.

There are five conditions that have some form of interaction with cefepime. These are listed below, and it is crucial that you mention these to your doctor before taking any cefepime:

  • Renal dysfunction
  • Colitis
  • Dialysis
  • Liver disease
  • Seizure disorders

Antibiotics

You should avoid taking any antibiotics when you are taking cefepime, as these can cause severe diarrhea. Diarrhea that is watery of contains traces of blood may indicate that there is a new infection. If you have taken both antibiotics and cefepime, and notice this type of diarrhea, you should call your doctor for advice and stop taking cefepime straight away.

Storage

It is important that you keep your prescription in the packaging with which it was supplied. It should always remain clearly labelled to prevent it becoming mixed up with other medications and should be kept in a foolproof cabinet that cannot be accessed by children.

There are often cases of children being admitted to accident and emergency centers due to consuming other people’s medications. It can be highly dangerous for a child to consume cefepime, and consequences could be serious. If you think your child has consumed any cefepime, you should get medical help immediately.

Before use, cefepime solution should be kept at room temperature - between 22 and 25 degrees centigrade. Once the solution powder has been mixed into its injectable form, it should be used with four hours of kept at room temperature. It can be stored for up to 24 hours if refrigerated.

Disposal

It is your responsibility to dispose of unused medication in the correct manner. You should not attempt to flush this medication down the toilet or drain, unless you are instructed to do so. Expired medication should not be used and should instead be disposed of. Using expired medication could be detrimental to your health and could also run the risk of being ineffective at treating your condition.

Summary

When taken according to its instructions, cefepime is an effective drug for treating a range of bacterial infections in patients. As it is usually administered by a doctor via injection, safety when using the drug is ensured, meaning that any side effects are likely to be managed effectively and any adverse reactions to the drug will be detected before they become troublesome.

Cefepime is a relatively safe drug that can be used to treat more severe infections where general antibiotics have failed to work. It is a short-term treatment method that is intended to kill off harmful bacteria fast where it becomes a threat to human life. There are very few other drugs that have been found to have a major reaction with cefepime, and also a small number of disease interactions, meaning that it is suitable for use in a wide range of patients. The drug is also suitable for use during pregnancy in the majority of cases, as it has been found to be a low risk. The benefits to health are generally found to outweigh the risk to an unborn baby.

Cefepime administration should be carried out only by a trained healthcare professional. Provided usage instructions are carefully followed, cefepime can drastically improve the quality of life of those that have been living with a bacterial infection. In most cases, the drug will be effective in the eradication of the infection completely, returning the patient to health where other treatments have failed. However, patients should be closely monitored throughout the treatment in case of any signs of allergic reactions. Some patients of cefepime can be vulnerable to these adverse reactions, and if they are detected then the treatment should be stopped.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017