Chemical and Microbiologic Aspects of Penems, a Distinct Class of β-Lactams: Focus on Faropenem

Jeremy M. T. Hamilton-Miller, D.Sc., FRCPath


Pharmacotherapy. 2003;23(11) 

In This Article


The rapid advance in the development of penicillins and cephalosporins slowed in the mid-1970s, but β-lactams remain the most widely used class of antimicrobial agents. With the emergence of resistance to current antimicrobials, new therapies are sought that offer a long-term solution to the problem of emerging multidrug-resistant clinical isolates. Synthesizing new agents by combining the best features of known classes is an alternative strategy to optimizing the design of existing compounds, and β-lactam structures are versatile, lending themselves to further modifications.

The penems exhibit considerable advantages as a new class of β-lactams: they possess good antibacterial activity against the gram-positive and gram-negative pathogens commonly responsible for a wide range of community infections and are stable to β-lactamases. Developing new antimicrobials remains a challenge, and the penems offer a potential opportunity to meet this continuing need.