Meropenem: a review of its use in the treatment of serious bacterial infections

Drugs. 2008;68(6):803-38. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200868060-00006.


Meropenem (Merrem, Meronem) is a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent of the carbapenem family, indicated as empirical therapy prior to the identification of causative organisms, or for disease caused by single or multiple susceptible bacteria in both adults and children with a broad range of serious infections. Meropenem is approved for use in complicated intra-abdominal infection (cIAI), complicated skin and skin structure infection (cSSSI) and bacterial meningitis (in paediatric patients aged > or = 3 months) in the US, and in most other countries for nosocomial pneumonia, cIAI, septicaemia, febrile neutropenia, cSSSI, bacterial meningitis, complicated urinary tract infection (UTI), obstetric and gynaecological infections, in cystic fibrosis patients with pulmonary exacerbations, and for the treatment of severe community-acquired pneumonia (CAP). Meropenem has a broad spectrum of in vitro activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens, including extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)- and AmpC-producing Enterobacteriaceae. It has similar efficacy to comparator antibacterial agents, including: imipenem/cilastatin in cIAI, cSSSI, febrile neutropenia, complicated UTI, obstetric or gynaecological infections and severe CAP; clindamycin plus tobramycin or gentamicin in cIAI or obstetric/gynaecological infections; cefotaxime plus metronidazole in cIAI; cefepime and ceftazidime plus amikacin in septicaemia or febrile neutropenia; and ceftazidime, clarithromycin plus ceftriaxone or amikacin in severe CAP. Meropenem has also shown similar efficacy to cefotaxime in paediatric and adult patients with bacterial meningitis, and to ceftazidime when both agents were administered with or without tobramycin in patients with cystic fibrosis experiencing acute pulmonary exacerbations. Meropenem showed greater efficacy than ceftazidime or piperacillin/tazobactam in febrile neutropenia, and greater efficacy than ceftazidime plus amikacin or tobramycin in patients with nosocomial pneumonia. Meropenem is well tolerated and has the advantage of being suitable for administration as an intravenous bolus or infusion. Its low propensity for inducing seizures means that it is suitable for treating bacterial meningitis and is the only carbapenem approved in this indication. Thus, meropenem continues to be an important option for the empirical treatment of serious bacterial infections in hospitalized patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / economics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Costs
  • Humans
  • Meropenem
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thienamycins / administration & dosage
  • Thienamycins / adverse effects
  • Thienamycins / economics
  • Thienamycins / pharmacokinetics
  • Thienamycins / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Thienamycins
  • Meropenem