The use of vancomycin with its therapeutic and adverse effects: a review

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015 Feb;19(4):694-700.


Objective: Vancomycin (VCM) is a tricyclic glycopeptide antibiotic produced by Streptococcus orientalis. Widely used in hospitals, it is indicated to fight severe infections caused by Gram-positive bacteria, especially with the advent of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), penicillin-resistant pneumococci among others. Furthermore, it is indicated for the treatment of patients allergic to penicillins and cephalosporins. Dose recommendations, dilution rates and types of infusion are controversial and also result in toxic effects. Aim of this paper was to perform a literature review showing the therapeutic and adverse effects of vancomycin.

Materials and methods: This is a literature review of recent articles published on MEDLINE and SciELO databases in English, Portuguese and Spanish.

Results: The main adverse effects of vancomycin are: hypotension, phlebitis, nephrotoxicity, ototoxicity, hypersensitivity reactions, red man syndrome, neutropenia, chills, fever, interstitial nephritis.

Conclusions: The use of vancomycin is still very common; however, inadequate doses and prolonged therapy pose a risk of increasing minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs), resulting in subtherapeutic levels, treatment failures and toxicity. Therefore, further studies should be conducted to optimize the administration of vancomycin, monitoring treatments from the beginning in order to ensure a safe and effective use of the drug.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cephalosporins / therapeutic use
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / drug effects
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Neutropenia / chemically induced
  • Vancomycin / adverse effects*
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cephalosporins
  • Vancomycin