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Minerva Pediatrica 2012 April;64(2):225-37


language: Italian

Proper antibiotic therapy. From penicillin to pharmacogenomic

Caramia G. 1, Ruffini E. 2

1 Primario Emerito di Pediatria e Neonatologia, Azienda Ospedaliera Specializzata Materno Infantile “G. Salesi”, Ancona, Italia; 2 Dirigente Medico, Unità Operativa di Pediatria-Neonatologia, ASL 13, Ascoli Piceno, Italia


Antibiotics have always been considered one of the wonder discoveries of the 20th century. The use of penicillin by Flaming, opened up the golden era of antibiotics and now is hard to imagine the practice of medicine without antibiotics. Life-threatening infections, such as meningitis, endocarditis, bacteremic pneumonia sepsis, would again prove fatal. Also aggressive chemotherapy and transplant procedures would prove impossible. Another real wonder has been the rise of antibiotic resistance soon after the clinical use of penicillin in hospitals and communities. Several study demonstrated an excessive amount of antibiotic prescribing for communities patients and inpatients and in some hospital up to 50% of antibiotic usage is inappropriate: the benefits of antibiotic treatment come with the risk of antibiotic resistance development. In hospitals, infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are associated with higher mortality, morbidity and prolonged hospital stay compared with infections caused by antibiotic-susceptible bacteria. A variety of strategies has been proposed to reduce the cost and improve the quality of medication use. Education, guidelines and evidence based recommendations are considered to be essential elements of any program designed to influence prescribing behavior and can provide a foundation of knowledge that will enhance and increase the acceptance of stewardship strategies. Evidence-based recommendations, an approach to clinical practice helping to make decisions based on clinical expertise and on intimate knowledge of the individual patient’s situations, beliefs, and priorities, enhance antimicrobial stewardship, that include appropriate selection, dosing, route, and duration of antimicrobial therapy can maximize clinical cure or prevention of infection while limiting the unintended consequences, such as the emergence of resistance, adverse drug events, and cost. These evidence-based guidelines are not a substitute for clinical judgment, and clinical discretion is always required in their application. Genome studies have identified hundreds of genetic polymorphism important determinants of the efficacy of therapy and several trial demonstrated the successful use of pharmacogenomic testing to reduce the incidence of hypersensitivity reactions in patients. Knowing the phenotype of a patient prior to therapy, optimal dose and type drugs can be prescribed to achieve better management of patients.

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