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Cefuroxime axetil is an oral cephalosporin which is rapidly hydrolysed to the active parent compound, cefuroxime. Cefuroxime has a broad spectrum of in vitro antibacterial activity which encompasses methicillin-sensitive staphylococci and the common respiratory pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella (Branhamella) catarrhalis and group A beta-haemolytic streptococci. Cefuroxime has broad spectrum activity against the beta-lactamase positive respiratory pathogens H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis; it is also active against penicillin-susceptible and -intermediate strains of S. pneumoniae. In clinical trials, cefuroxime axetil (administered twice daily) has been evaluated in the treatment of upper and lower respiratory tract infections and has demonstrated similar efficacy to established antibacterial agents, including amoxicillin/clavulanic acid and cefaclor. Five days’ treatment with cefuroxime axetil was recently shown to be as effective as 10 days’ treatment with either cefuroxime axetil or amoxicillin/clavulanic acid in patients with acute otitis media or acute bronchitis. Cefuroxime axetil was at least as effective as phenoxymethylpenicillin (penicillin V) in the treatment of patients with group A beta-haemolytic streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis. A number of studies have evaluated the efficacy of cefuroxime axetil as the oral component of intravenous to oral sequential therapy in hospitalised patients with lower respiratory tract infection. In each study patients received parenteral cefuroxime for approximately 2 days followed by cefuroxime axetil for 5 to 10 days. In comparative studies, cefuroxime sequential therapy was as effective as amoxicillin/ clavulanic acid sequential therapy and full courses of parenteral cefuroxime, cefotiam or cefoperazone. Adults with urinary tract infections and skin infections were also effectively treated with cefuroxime axetil, as were adults and adolescents with early stage
lyme disease. Cefuroxime axetil is associated with a low incidence of adverse events, with gastrointestinal disturbances being the most frequently observed. Thus, cefuroxime axetil is an effective and convenient treatment for a wide range of infections and may be considered a therapeutic option when empirical treatment of community-acquired infections is required. Moreover, given the promising results of several intravenous/oral sequential treatment studies, cefuroxime axetil may also become established as an oral component of sequential treatment regimens.