Piperacillin/tazobactam: an updated review of its use in the treatment of bacterial infections

Drugs. 1999 May;57(5):805-43. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199957050-00017.


Piperacillin/tazobactam is a beta-lactam/beta-lactamase inhibitor combination with a broad spectrum of antibacterial activity encompassing most Gram-positive and Gram-negative aerobic bacteria and anaerobic bacteria, including many pathogens producing beta-lactamases. Evidence from clinical trials in adults has shown that piperacillin/tazobactam, administered in an 8:1 ratio, is an effective treatment for patients with lower respiratory tract, intra-abdominal, urinary tract, gynaecological and skin/soft tissue infections, and for fever in patients with neutropenia. Combination regimens of piperacillin/tazobactam plus an aminoglycoside are used to treat patients with severe nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections. In clinical trials, piperacillin/tazobactam was significantly more effective than ticarcillin/clavulanic acid in terms of clinical and microbiological outcome in patients with community-acquired pneumonia. In patients with intra-abdominal infections, clinical and bacteriological response rates were significantly higher with piperacillin/tazobactam than with imipenem/cilastatin (administered at a dosage lower than is recommended in countries outside Scandinavia). Piperacillin/tazobactam in combination with amikacin was at least as effective as ceftazidime plus amikacin in the treatment of ventilator-associated pneumonia and was significantly more effective than ceftazidime plus amikacin in the empirical treatment of febrile episodes in patients with neutropenia or granulocytopenia. In other trials, the efficacy of piperacillin/tazobactam was similar to that of standard aminoglycoside-containing and other treatment regimens in patients with intra-abdominal, skin/soft tissue or gynaecological infections. Piperacillin/tazobactam is generally well tolerated. The most frequent adverse events are gastrointestinal symptoms (most commonly diarrhoea) and skin reactions. The incidence of adverse events with piperacillin/tazobactam is higher when the combination is given in combination with an aminoglycoside than when given as monotherapy.

Conclusion: Because of the broad spectrum of antibacterial activity provided by piperacillin/tazobactam, it is useful for the treatment of patients with polymicrobial infections caused by aerobic or anaerobic beta-lactamase-producing bacteria. Piperacillin/tazobactam appears to have a particularly useful role in the treatment of patients with intra-abdominal infections and, in combination with amikacin, in the treatment of patients with febrile neutropenia, especially given the current prevalence of Gram-positive infections in this group.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Penicillanic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Penicillanic Acid / pharmacology
  • Penicillins / pharmacokinetics
  • Penicillins / pharmacology*
  • Piperacillin / pharmacokinetics
  • Piperacillin / pharmacology*
  • Tazobactam


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Penicillins
  • Penicillanic Acid
  • Tazobactam
  • Piperacillin