Active Ingredients

Ertapenem – Effect, Application & Risks


Ertapenem is a medicinal substance from the carbapenem group . Preparations containing the medicinal substance are used, inter alia, for the treatment of intra-abdominal infections, acute gynecological infections, pneumonia acquired on an outpatient basis and for the treatment of a diabetic foot . In addition, ertapenem is used preventively to prevent infection of the abdomen prior to surgery.

What is ertapenem?

Ertapenem is assigned to the active substance group of carbapenems. This term summarizes various antibiotics that are administered as medicines because of their broad antimicrobial effect. In addition to ertapenem, this group also includes meropenem , imipenem , doripenem , and tebipenem .

Within the European Union and Switzerland, Ertapenem is marketed under the trade name Invanz®. In pharmacology and chemistry, the active substance is described with the molecular formula C22-H25-N3-O7-S, which corresponds to a moral mass of 475.516 g/mol.

Ertapenem is given to treat infectious diseases caused by anaerobes or gram-negative or gram-positive pathogens. A bacterium is Gram-positive if it turns blue when differential staining is performed. Gram negative are those that turn red.

Ertapenem is usually administered as an infusion solution and is therefore parenteral.

Pharmacological actio

Ertapenem acts – which is typical for early representatives of the carbapenems – extremely quickly. This means that bacteria are quickly killed by the active ingredient. However, a minimum effective amount of ertapenem in the body must be consistently exceeded in order to achieve success. Experts therefore speak of time-dependent killing kinetics.

Ertapenem is stable to most beta-lactasmases. Beta- lactasmases are specific enzymes produced by bacteria to prevent external attacks. Beta-lactasmases are thus comparable to antibodies and prevent the effectiveness of antibiotics. Because ertapenem is stable to almost all beta-lactasmases, the drug can be used effectively against a wide range of bacteria.

In addition, ertapenem is not targeted by a bacterium’s extended spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL). These can also significantly impair the effectiveness of antibiotics. However, ertapenem is ineffective against enterococci and Pseudomonas aeruginosa .

The drug kills bacteria by attaching to penicillin- binding proteins . This permanently prevents the bacterium from renewing its cell wall, which ultimately leads to its death.

10% of ertapenem is excreted in the stool . Further elimination of the active ingredient occurs renally, i.e. through the kidneys .

Medical studies have not established a causal relationship between treatment with ertapenem and direct or indirect damage to the embryo . Nevertheless, it should only be taken after a careful risk-benefit analysis has been carried out. Because ertapenem can pass into breast milk , breast-feeding should be avoided during and shortly after treatment.

Medical Application & Use

Ertapenem is given to fight infectious diseases in adults, adolescents and children from 3 months of age. There is an indication for acute gynecological infections, community-acquired pneumonia, intra-abdominal infections and diabetic feet if they lead to a skin infection.

In addition, ertapenem can also be used preventively, ie preventively. It is often prescribed to prevent postoperative abdominal infections. Such infections can occur after elective colorectal surgery.

Ertapenem is sold as a powder. This is usually supplied as a concentrate. It is used to prepare an infusion solution. The administration is therefore parenteral.

Risks & side effects

Ertapenem should not be administered if there is a contraindication. The term contraindication describes a circumstance that leads to a medical contraindication. This means that treatment must be avoided from a medical point of view due to actual circumstances. Such a contraindication exists if there is a hypersensitivity or allergy to ertapenem or other drugs of the carbapenem group.

However, hypersensitivity could also be found in those treated with beta-lactam antibiotics . In addition, there is also a contraindication in the case of renal dysfunction , since the breakdown of the active ingredient occurs predominantly renally, i.e. via the kidneys.

Furthermore, undesirable side effects can occur during treatment with ertapenem . So far it has been observed that fungal infections (particularly candidiasis ), hypoglycaemia (reduction in blood sugar below 60 mg/gl), colds , coughs and pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharyngeal mucosa) occur.

Other undesirable side effects include insomnia , general fatigue and weakness , dizziness , restlessness , depressive moods and panic states .

Allergic skin reactions are also possible. These usually manifest themselves as a rash , urticaria (wheals), dermatitis or itching . Anorexia and disorders of the gastrointestinal tract ( diarrhea , vomiting , nausea , etc.) can also occur.

Cardiac arrhythmias have also occurred in some cases . Possible side effects also include pain (especially in the head, muscles, abdomen, chest or shoulder area). Hypertension or hypotension are also conceivable during and shortly after the treatment.

Lisa Newlon
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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.