Active Ingredients

Cefotaxime – Effect, Application & Risks


Cefotaxime is an antibiotic . The active ingredient belongs to the third-generation cephalosporins .

What is cefotaxime?

Cefotaxime is a broad -spectrum antibiotic that belongs to group 3a of the cephalosporins. The active ingredient is used to treat bacterial infections . Just like other cephalosporins, cefotaxime is able to kill bacteria . The drug inhibits bacterial cell wall synthesis.

Cefotaxime was approved in the 1980s. In Germany and Austria, the prescription antibiotic is available as a monopreparation under the name Claforan®. In addition, various generics are offered.

Pharmacological action

The mode of action of cefotaxime is based on the antibiotic preventing the bacteria from building up their cell wall. To do this, it blocks the enzyme transpeptidase. As a result of this process, weak spots develop within the cell envelope of the germs . The weak points cause the cell wall of the bacteria to tear, which ultimately results in the death of the pathogen.In contrast to group 1 cephalosporins such as cefazolin , cefotaxime is more effective against gram-negative bacteria. These include, inter alia, Enterobacteriaceae , meningococci and gonococci . However, a weakness of cefotaxime is that it is less effective against pseudomonas than other group 3a cephalosporins, which include ceftazidime, ceftriaxone and cefmenoxime .

Cefotaxime cannot work against certain germs that are already resistant to antibiotics. The types of bacteria against which the drug is effective include, for example , Salmonella , Enterobacter , Shigella , Escherichia coli , pneumococci , Strepotococcus viridans , Proteus vulgaris, Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonococci), Pasteurella , Klebsiella and anaerobes. In the gram-positive range, the effect of the agent is insufficient against staphylococci .

The half-life of cefotaxime is about 60 minutes in adult humans. For seniors or babies, it is often much longer. The antibiotic is mainly excreted via the kidneys .

Medical Application & Use

Cefotaxime is used against severe bacterial infections that can even be life-threatening. The body regions that are mostly treated include the urinary tract such as the urethra , ureters , bladder and kidneys, the respiratory tract , the ear, nose and throat area and the skin .

Frequent indications for the use of cephalosporins are pneumonia , blood poisoning (sepsis), inflammation of the peritoneum ( peritonitis ), infections in the abdomen, meningitis ( meningitis ), inflammation of the inner lining of the heart ( endocarditis ), bone infections and infections of the soft tissues. If there are gaps in effectiveness, these are closed by administering other antibiotics such as acylaminopenicillin or aminoglycoside .

Another treatment area for cefotaxime is neuroborreliosis , which is a manifestation of Lyme disease . This disease is transmitted by ticks and is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi .

Cefotaxime is administered through an infusion , bypassing the intestine .

Risks & side effects

Undesirable side effects are possible in some patients when taking cefotaxime . In most cases, this leads to a lack of blood platelets , the development of immature blood cells , allergic skin reactions such as itching , rash and hives , and drug fever . In addition, the concentration of urea and creatinine in the blood can increase.Side effects sometimes also occur at the administration site itself. These include pain at the injection site, tissue hardening or inflammatory reactions in the vein wall. Other occasional side effects are gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea , abdominal pain , loss of appetite , nausea and vomiting , bloody inflammation of the colon or small intestine , inflammation of the kidneys and additional infections caused by resistant bacteria.

If a hypersensitivity reaction to cefotaxime occurs, which is accompanied by bronchial spasms , facial swelling or shock , the antibiotic therapy must be stopped immediately.

If you have impaired kidney function or are prone to allergies , a thorough risk-benefit analysis by the doctor treating you is required.

There is no experience with the administration of cefotaxime during pregnancy . No negative effects on the offspring were found in animal experiments. Nevertheless, it is advisable to have a strict check by the doctor during treatment during pregnancy.

The intestinal flora of babies can be disturbed by the use of cefotaxime during breastfeeding , since the antibiotic passes into breast milk , albeit only in small quantities. The affected infants then usually suffer from diarrhea . Basically, however, a therapy of newborns with the drug is possible.

Taking cefotaxime and other drugs at the same time occasionally causes interactions. Thus, the positive effect of the antibiotic is weakened when combined with chloramphenicol , erythromycin , sulfonamides or tetracyclines . Simultaneously administering the gout medication probenecid impairs the excretion of cefotaxime from the body. Due to the longer-lasting concentration of the active ingredient in the blood, there is a risk of stronger side effects.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.