Clinical Pharmacokinetics

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 327–342 | Cite as

Pharmacokinetic Optimisation of Vancomycin Therapy

  • W. Greg Leader
  • Mary H. H. Chandler
  • Mary Castiglia
Review Article Pharmacokinetics-Therapeutics


Renewed interest in vancomycin over the past decade has led to an abundance of data concerning the pharmacokinetics of vancomycin, and its dosage selection and concentration-response relationships.

No definitive data exist that correlate vancomycin serum concentrations with clinical outcomes. However, inconsistencies in sampling times for peak serum concentrations and differences in infusion times make interpreting vancomycin serum concentrations difficult. Furthermore, the evidence implicating vancomycin as a cause of oto- or nephrotoxicity is circumstantial, and these adverse effects may occur only in high-risk populations.

Owing to the variability in its dose-serum concentration relationship and multicompartmental pharmacokinetics, several methodologies have been developed for instituting and adjusting vancomycin dosages. Nomograms rely on a fixed volume of distribution and the relationship between vancomycin clearance and creatinine clearance. Since both of these factors may be altered in certain populations, dosage methodologies (both traditional and Bayesian) that use population- or patient-specific pharmacokinetic data perform better than standard nomograms for initiating vancomycin therapy. Controversy still exists as to whether a 1- or a 2-compartment model is more appropriate for making dosage adjustments; however, steady-state rather than non-steady-state vancomycin serum concentrations should be used for dosage adjustments. Certain pathophysiological states such as age, bodyweight and renal function contribute to altered pharmacokinetics and may alter the design of the dosage regimen.

Since no definitive relationship exists between vancomycin serum concentrations and either clinical outcome or adverse effects, considerable controversy surrounds the utility of monitoring serum vancomycin concentrations. Therefore, routine vancomycin serum concentration monitoring may be warranted only in specific populations, such as patients receiving concurrent aminoglycoside therapy or those receiving higher than usual dosages of vancomycin, patients undergoing haemodialysis and patients with rapidly changing renal function.


Vancomycin Adis International Limited Antimicrob Agent Elimination Rate Constant Serum Drug Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Greg Leader
    • 1
  • Mary H. H. Chandler
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mary Castiglia
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of PharmacyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Pharmacy Practice and Science, College of PharmacyUniversity of KentuckyUSA
  3. 3.Clinical Pharmacokinetics ServiceUniversity of Kentucky Medical CenterLexingtonUSA

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