Randomized trial of beta-lactam regimens in febrile neutropenic cancer patients

Elias J. Anaissie, Victor Fainstein, Gerald P. Bodey, Kenneth Rolston, Linda Elting, Hagop Kantarjian, Fernando Cabanillas, Kenneth B. McCredie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


A three-arm prospective randomized trial was designed to compare the efficacies of piperacillin plus vancomycin, ceftazidime plus vancomycin, or all three drugs as initial therapy for fever in neutropenic cancer patients. The objectives were to determine whether a broad-spectrum penicillin was as effective as a broad-spectrum cephalosporin and whether two beta-lactam antibiotics were more effective than one. Four hundred and seventy of the 519 febrile episodes entered in the study could be evaluated for response. Ceftazidime plus vancomycin was significantly more effective than piperacillin plus vancomycin, considering all febrile episodes (79 percent versus 61 percent, p = 0.001), documented infections (79 percent versus 57 percent, p = 0.004), gram-negative infections (88 percent versus 47 percent, p = 0.001), and bacteremias (81 percent versus 51 percent, p = 0.01). The addition of piperacillin to ceftazidime (piperacillin plus ceftazidime and vancomycin versus ceftazidime plus vancomycin) did not improve the response rate and was associated with a significantly higher incidence of skin rash. Vancomycin plus ceftazidime provides adequate antibiotic coverage for initial treatment of fever in neutropenic patients. This combination was equally effective, less expensive, and less toxic than the double beta-lactam combination used in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
JournalThe American journal of medicine
Issue number3 PART 2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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