Antimicrobial dosing considerations in obese adult patients

Pharmacotherapy. 2007 Aug;27(8):1081-91. doi: 10.1592/phco.27.8.1081.


As obesity continues to increase in prevalence throughout the world, it becomes important to explore the effects that obesity has on antimicrobial disposition. Physiologic changes in obesity can alter both the volume of distribution and clearance of many commonly used antimicrobials. These changes often present challenges such as estimation of creatinine clearance to predict drug clearance. Although these physiologic changes are increasingly being characterized, few studies assessing alterations in tissue drug distribution and the effects of obesity on antimicrobial pharmacokinetics have been published. The available data are most plentiful for antibiotics that historically have included clinical therapeutic drug monitoring. These data suggest that dosing of vancomycin and aminoglycosides be based on total body weight and adjusted body weight, respectively. Obese patients may require larger doses of beta-lactams to achieve similar concentrations as those of patients who are not obese. Fluoroquinolone pharmacokinetics are variably altered by obesity, which prevents a uniform approach. Data on the pharmacokinetics of drugs that have activity against gram-positive organisms-quinupristin-dalfopristin, linezolid, and daptomycin-reveal that they are altered in the presence of obesity, but more data are needed to solidify dosing recommendations. Limited data are available on nonantibacterials. An understanding of the physiologic changes in obesity and the available literature on specific antibiotics is valuable in providing a framework for rational selection of dosages in this increasingly common population of obese patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Body Weight
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Obesity / classification
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Anti-Infective Agents