Despite concerns about adverse effects, chloramphenicol (CMC) continues to be used in certain situations and, due to its low therapeutic index and variable pharmacokinetics, therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) is often recommended. At our centre, CMC finds applications in typhoid and meningitis and TDM is routinely performed. Elsewhere in Malaysia, however, CMC is used without TDM. We therefore decided to evaluate our TDM for CMC in relation to its roles in CMC therapy in children, who constitute most of our patients. Our objective was also to develop strategies to improve our TDM for CMC use. Data were collected from 168 children given CMC for various indications and monitored by the TDM service. Plasma CMC was determined by HPLC and used to adjust doses to maintain concentrations within a range of 10-25 micrograms/ml. Outcomes measured included daily temperatures and haematological indices. Daily doses and plasma CMC varied greatly. Doses averaged 40.5 mg/kg for neonates and 75.5 for older children. Average peak concentrations were therapeutic in 60% and trough in 42%. Average duration of fever was 6.3 days and it was unaffected by plasma CMC. Typhoid was eradicated in 97% but nine children with other diagnoses died. Side-effects were confined to mild reversible haematological abnormalities which developed in 11% of children at plasma concentrations which tended to be high. We conclude that CMC remains useful in children with typhoid. Its use for other indications, however, should be reviewed. Routine TDM for CMC is probably not warranted, at least until a clearer role is defined by well designed prospective studies.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.