Therapeutic drug monitoring of the β-lactam antibiotics: what is the evidence and which patients should we be using it for?

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Traditional antibiotic dosing was not designed for today's escalating antibiotic resistance, lack of novel antibiotics and growing complexity in patient populations. Dosing that ensures optimal antibiotic exposures should be considered essential to increase the likelihood of effective patient treatment. Given the variability in these exposures across different patients, a ‘one-dose-fits-all’ approach is increasingly problematic. Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) of the β-lactams, the most widely used antibiotic class, is underutilized in certain populations. Clinical experience with β-lactam TDM remains relatively scarce. Patients most likely to benefit from such an intervention include the critically ill, the obese, the elderly and those with cystic fibrosis. Most centres actively performing β-lactam TDM target a minimum 100% of the time during the dosing interval that the free (unbound) concentration of antibiotic exceeds the MIC of the pathogen (100% fT>MIC), which is higher than a traditional target supported by in vitro data. Ideally, isolated pathogens should undergo MIC testing along with TDM on a regular basis, allowing clinicians to address the triad of bug, drug and patient (‘mug’) in equal measure.

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