Systematic review: the bioavailability of orally administered antibiotics during the initial phase of a systemic infection in non-ICU patients

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Background: The systemic response to an infection might influence the pharmacokinetics of antibiotics. To evaluate the desired possibility of an earlier (< 24 h) IV-to-oral switch therapy in febrile non-ICU, hospitalized patients, a systematic review was performed to assess the effect of the initial phase of a systemic infection on the bioavailability of orally administered antibiotics in such patients. Methods: An electronic search was conducted in MEDLINE and Embase up to July 2020. Studies were selected when outcome data were collected during the initial stage of a febrile disease. Outcome data were (maximum) serum concentrations, time of achieving maximum serum concentration, and the area-under-the-plasma-concentration-time curve or bioavailability of orally administered antibiotics. Risk of bias was assessed. Results: We identified 9 studies on 6 antibiotics. Ciprofloxacin was the most frequently studied drug. Outcomes of the studies were heterogeneous and generally had a high risk of bias. Three small studies, two on ciprofloxacin and one on clarithromycin, compared the pharmacokinetics of febrile patients with those of clinically recovered patients and suggested that bioavailability was not altered in these patients. Other studies either compared the pharmacokinetics in febrile patients with reported pharmacokinetic values from earlier studies in healthy volunteers (n = 2), or provided no comparison at all and were non-conclusive (n = 4). Conclusion: There is a clear knowledge gap regarding the bioavailability of orally administered antibiotics in non-ICU patients during the initial phase of a systemic infection. Well-designed studies on this topic are necessary to elucidate whether patients can benefit from the advantages of an earlier IV-to-oral switch.

Original languageEnglish
Article number285
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Acute infection
  • Bioavailability
  • Non-ICU patients
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Pharmacokinetics

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