Drug utilisation review (DUR) of the third generation cephalosporins. Focus on ceftriaxone, ceftazidime and cefotaxime.

PMID 8521766


Six parenteral third generation cephalosporins have been introduced into clinical use in the past 10 years. The 3 most frequently available agents are cefotaxime, ceftriaxone and ceftazidime. These 3 third generation cephalosporins are characterised by a broad spectrum of activity and increased stability to beta-lactamases compared with the first and second generation cephalosporins. However, there are growing numbers of reports of resistance to these agents with increasing use. The major differences in the properties of the 3 agents are the long half-life of ceftriaxone and its dual route of elimination. Ceftazidime is best restricted to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections where other agents are contraindicated or ineffective. Cefotaxime and ceftriaxone can be used in nosocomial Gram-negative infections where P. aeruginosa can be ruled out. The types and incidences of adverse drug reactions are not different for the 3 agents. A number of drug utilisation review (DUR) studies of these agents in the hospital setting have reported a considerable incidence of inappropriate use and substantial avoidable costs. There are methodological problems with most of the DUR studies, especially the criteria and the methods of cost estimation. The use of pharmacoeconomic methodology could ensure more realistic cost estimation; however, outcome data are, in most cases, not available.