Gram-positive pathogens are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in both community and health care settings. Glycopeptides have traditionally been the antibiotics of choice for multiresistant Gram-positive pathogens but there are problems with their use, including the emergence of glycopeptide-resistant strains, tissue penetration, and achieving and monitoring adequate serum levels. Newer antibiotics such as linezolid, a synthetic oxazolidinone, are available for the treatment of resistant Gram-positive bacteria. Linezolid is active against a wide range of Gram-positive bacteria and has been generally available for the treatment of Gram-positive infections since 2000. There are potential problems with linezolid use, including its bacteriostatic action and the relatively high incidence of reported adverse effects, particularly with long-term use. Long-term use may also be complicated by the development of resistance. However, linezolid has been shown to be clinically useful in the treatment of several serious infections where traditionally bacteriocidal agents have been required and many of its adverse effects are reversible on cessation. It has also been shown to be a cost-effective treatment option in several studies, with its high oral bioavailability allowing an early change from intravenous to oral formulations with consequent earlier patient discharge and lower inpatient costs.
Keywords: MRSA; VRE; cost-benefit; gram-positive; linezolid; multi-resistant; oxazolidinone.