Objective: Meropenem is a parenteral carbapenem antibiotic which has a broad spectrum of activity against aerobes and anaerobes. Meropenem's bactericidal activity is determined by the time during which meropenem concentration remains above the minimal inhibition concentration (MIC) during the dosing interval. Thus, prolonged infusion is the optimal way to maximize the time-dependant activity. However, studies to date have shown that carbapenems and in particular, meropenem, are relatively unstable in solution. The aims of this study were therefore (1) to establish the effects of temperature on the concentration of a generic brand reconstituted meropenem solution and (2) to determine whether 24-hour continuous infusion is possible without concentrations dropping below the recommended 90%. Method: Preliminary examination was carried out by the means of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Meropenem was subsequently assayed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). The method was developed and validated in compliance with International Council for Harmonisation (ICH) guidelines. Meropenem's stability was examined at two temperatures 22°C and 33°C to mimic average and high temperature in hospital wards. Solutions were prepared aseptically at the clinically relevant concentration. Results: NMR results obtained showed an increase in open ring methyl groups peak intensity, indicating that meropenem begins to degrade upon dissolution (d=1.05 and 1.25). Results obtained from quantitative HPLC confirm that meropenem concentrations dropped to 90% of initial concentration at 7.4 hours and 5.7 hours at 22°C and 33°C, respectively. Conclusion: Although results obtained indicate that meropenem should not be continuously infused over 24 hours, it is possible that meropenem could be continuously infused for at least 7 hours if temperature does not exceed 22°C and for 5 hours if temperature does not exceed 33°C.
Keywords: IV bags; continuous infusions; meropenem; normal saline; stability; temperature.