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Drugs. 2003;63(24):2769-802.

Levofloxacin: a review of its use in the treatment of bacterial infections in the United States.

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  • 1Adis International Limited, Auckland, New Zealand.


Levofloxacin (Levaquin) is a fluoroquinolone antibacterial agent with a broad spectrum of activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and atypical respiratory pathogens. It is active against both penicillin-susceptible and penicillin-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae. The prevalence of S. pneumoniae resistance to levofloxacin is <1% overall in the US.A number of randomised comparative trials in the US have demonstrated the efficacy of levofloxacin in the treatment of infections of the respiratory tract, genitourinary tract, skin and skin structures. Sequential intravenous to oral levofloxacin 750mg once daily for 7-14 days was as effective in the treatment of nosocomial pneumonia as intravenous imipenem/cilastatin 500-1000mg every 6-8 hours followed by oral ciprofloxacin 750mg twice daily in one study. In patients with mild to severe community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), intravenous and/or oral levofloxacin 500mg once daily for 7-14 days achieved clinical and bacteriological response rates similar to those with comparator agents, including amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, clarithromycin, azithromycin, ceftriaxone and/or cefuroxime axetil and gatifloxacin. A recent study indicates that intravenous or oral levofloxacin 750mg once daily for 5 days is as effective as 500mg once daily for 10 days, in the treatment of mild to severe CAP. Exacerbations of chronic bronchitis and acute maxillary sinusitis respond well to treatment with oral levofloxacin 500mg once daily for 7 and 10-14 days, respectively. Oral levofloxacin was as effective as ofloxacin in uncomplicated urinary tract infections and ciprofloxacin or lomefloxacin in complicated urinary tract infections. In men with chronic bacterial prostatitis treated for 28 days, oral levofloxacin 500mg once daily achieved similar clinical and bacteriological response rates to oral ciprofloxacin 500mg twice daily. Uncomplicated skin infections responded well to oral levofloxacin 500mg once daily for 7-10 days, while in complicated skin infections intravenous and/or oral levofloxacin 750mg for 7-14 days was at least as effective as intravenous ticarcillin/clavulanic acid (+/- switch to oral amoxicillin/clavulanic acid) administered for the same duration. Levofloxacin is generally well tolerated, with the most frequently reported adverse events being nausea and diarrhoea; in comparison with some other quinolones it has a low photosensitising potential and clinically significant cardiac and hepatic adverse events are rare.


Levofloxacin is a broad-spectrum antibacterial agent with activity against a range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and atypical organisms. It provides clinical and bacteriological efficacy in a range of infections, including those caused by both penicillin-susceptible and -resistant strains of S. pneumoniae. Levofloxacin is well tolerated, and is associated with few of the phototoxic, cardiac or hepatic adverse events seen with some other quinolones. It also has a pharmacokinetic profile that is compatible with once-daily administration and allows for sequential intravenous to oral therapy. The recent approvals in the US for use in the treatment of nosocomial pneumonia and chronic bacterial prostatitis, and the introduction of a short-course, high-dose regimen for use in CAP, further extend the role of levofloxacin in treating bacterial infections.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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