Cefuroxime axetil, a prodrug of the cephalosporin cefuroxime, has proven in vitro antibacterial activity against several gram-positive and gram-negative organisms, including those most frequently associated with various common community-acquired infections. In numerous randomised, controlled trials, 5 to 10 days' treatment with oral cefuroxime axetil (250 or 500 mg twice daily) was an effective treatment in patients with upper (URTI) and lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) as assessed by clinical and bacteriological criteria. The drug was as effective as several other cephalosporins, quinolones, macrolides and amoxicillin/clavulanic acid. Shorter courses (5 to 10 days') of cefuroxime axetil were at least as effective as a 10 day course. Furthermore, sequential therapy with intravenous cefuroxime (750 mg 2 or 3 times daily for 2 to 5 days) followed by oral cefuroxime axetil (500 mg twice daily for 3 to 8 days) proved an effective treatment in adult patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). This approach provided similar efficacy to intravenous ampicillin/sulbactam followed by oral amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, a full parenteral course of cefuroxime, or intravenous then oral azithromycin or clarithromycin. Additionally, cefuroxime axetil was an effective treatment in patients with genitourinary, skin and soft-tissue infections, and erythema migrans associated with early stage Lyme disease. The drug is well tolerated by adult and paediatric patients, with adverse effects that are consistent with those of other cephalosporins. The majority of adverse events (primarily gastrointestinal disturbances) were mild to moderate in intensity and reversible upon discontinuation of treatment, with very few serious adverse events reported.
Conclusions: Cefuroxime axetil is a broad spectrum antibacterial agent with a pharmacokinetic profile that permits convenient twice-daily administration. The drug is an effective and well tolerated treatment in patients with various infections, including otitis media, pharyngitis, sinusitis, CAP and acute exacerbations of chronic bronchitis. Cefuroxime axetil proved effective as a component of intravenous/oral sequential therapy in the treatment of CAP, although there are currently no dosage recommendations available for this regimen in some countries. Cefuroxime axetil may be considered as an empirical therapy for a range of community-acquired infections, including those in which beta-lactamase-producing strains of common respiratory pathogens are identified as the causative organisms. In an era of rapidly emerging bacterial resistance, empirical treatment with bacterial agents, potentially preventing the emergence of bacterial resistance to agents such as cefuroxime axetil may ensure the appropriate use of newer antibacterial agents, potentially preventing the emergence of bacterial resistance to these newer drugs.