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What Is Cefepime?

By Ray Hawk
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cefepime is the generic name for a pharmaceutical drug in the class of antibiotics used by modern medical science as of 2011 to treat bacterial infections. It is often sold under the trade name of Maxipime and is in a class of drugs related to penicillin that are known as cephalosporins. Since the drug is a particularly powerful antibiotic, it is given as an injection and is considered safe for use on anyone who does not show an adverse reaction to other types of cephalosporin class antibiotics.

One of the common risks of cefepime even if allergic reactions are not an issue is that it can cause diarrhea. The symptom of diarrhea can be a minor indication that cefepime has killed off beneficial bacteria in the body that help to digest food, or it can be a more serious side effect of other unknown causes. Anyone who takes cefepime and experiences diarrhea is cautioned to stop taking the medication and to contact his or her doctor for further consultation. The drug is also not recommended for anyone with compromised health conditions that include kidney and liver disease as well as digestive tract disorders.

Despite its drawbacks, the safety of cefepime is established for generally healthy adults with some exceptions. Women who are nursing or pregnant are not allowed to take it as a standard precaution because it could pass to the unborn child through the bloodstream or through breast milk. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States nevertheless classifies cefepime as a category B medication, which means it is considered safe for unborn children.

Unlike many other types of antibiotics, cefepime is generally not available in pill form. It is most often taken as an intravenous (IV) injection into a prominent vein or muscle tissue in the buttocks or hip region. These injections can be administered by needle in a hospital setting or by patients themselves in a home environment. Normal dosing time for the injection takes 30 minutes and is required to be repeated twice a day. The drug is also only considered to have a safe shelf life of seven days and must be stored in a refrigerator and not frozen. When it is time to use a cefepime dosage, it is recommended that it be taken out of the refrigerator and allowed to warm to room temperature for an hour before use.

Possible risks of cefepime tend to be more serious than other types of antibiotics. These include such potential though uncommon symptoms as mental impairment involving hallucinations, states of confusion, and loss of consciousness, as well as seizures. The drug can also stimulate skin reactions like rashes and bruising, as well as symptoms that resemble the flu or common cold such as fever, chills, and fatigue. While these conditions warrant consultation by a doctor, cefepime is not prescribed as widely as other antibiotics, with two of the most common reasons that it is given being for the treatment of pneumonia and infections involving the skin or urinary tract.

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