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Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2001 Mar;20(3):362-9.

Comparative study of cefepime versus ceftazidime in the empiric treatment of pediatric cancer patients with fever and neutropenia.

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Jimmy Everest Cancer Center, Children's Hospital of Oklahoma, Oklahoma University Health Science Center, Oklahoma City 73104, USA.



In view of the recent trend toward monotherapy in the treatment of bacterial infection, we evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of cefepime vs. ceftazidime for the empiric treatment of febrile episodes in neutropenic pediatric cancer patients.


In a single site, open label study, 104 neutropenic pediatric cancer patients [96% with absolute neutrophil count (ANC) of <500 neutrophils/mm3] with a median age of 6 years were randomized (1:1) to receive either intravenous cefepime or ceftazidime (50 mg/kg/dose every 8 h; < or = 6 g/day) for empiric treatment of fever (temperature >38.0 degrees C occurring at least twice in 24 h, or single >38.5 degrees C). Febrile episodes were classified as either microbiologically or clinically documented infection or fever of unknown origin. Therapy continued until the ANC was > or = 1,000 neutrophils/mm3 or there was an increasing ANC in low risk patients (maximum duration of treatment, 8 weeks). The primary efficacy endpoints assessed were clinical and microbiologic response to assigned drug therapy. Secondary outcome measures were rate of early discontinuation of study drug and use of concomitant antibiotic therapy to modify initial study drug regimen.


Of 68 patients who could be evaluated for efficacy, 74% (26 of 35) of cefepime-treated patients and 70% (23 of 33) of ceftazidime-treated patients responded to treatment. The small number of study patients precluded statistical analysis of results. In a modified intent-to-treat analysis, 59% of the patients treated with cefepime and 47% of ceftazidime-treated patients responded to therapy. Cefepime patients developed fewer new infections than ceftazidime patients (9% vs. 21%, respectively) and early discontinuation of study drug therapy occurred slightly more often in the ceftazidime group. Further, the use of concomitant systemic antimicrobial therapy (mostly vancomycin) occurred less often in the cefepime-treated patients, as compared with the ceftazidime group [35% [17 of 49] vs. 44% (24 of 55), respectively]. No deaths or serious adverse events were considered to be related to study therapy. The most frequent adverse event was rash that was moderate in severity, and it occurred equally in both groups.


Cefepime appears to be safe and effective compared with ceftazidime for initial empiric therapy of febrile episodes in neutropenic pediatric cancer patients.

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