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Imipenem is a synthetic broad-spectrum antibiotic of the carbepenem class, which contains a beta-lactam ring structure but is not considered a member of the penicillin or cephalosporin class, and is not affected by beta-lactamases. It is a frequent choice for treatment of infections involving multidrug-resistant bacteria, or multiple types of bacteria. Imipenem is derived from the naturally occurring antibiotic thienamycin, which is too unstable for clinical use.

Imipenem is administered with cilistatin to reduce the rate of its renal excretion; cilistatin does not have a direct antibacterial effect but keeps imipenem levels high.



"Its effectiveness is enhanced when it is administered in combination with cilistatin, a renal dipeptidase inhibitor,"[1] especially when the patient's kidney function is diminished. [2]


Imipenem must be injected. It has FDA-approved intramuscular and intravenous forms.

In veterinary medicine, it also can be administered subcutaneously to cats, as well as intravenously.


  1. Anonymous (2024), Imipenem (English). Medical Subject Headings. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  2. G A Verpooten, L Verbist, A P Buntinx, L A Entwistle, K H Jones, M E De Broe (1984 August), "The pharmacokinetics of imipenem (thienamycin-formamidine) and the renal dehydropeptidase inhibitor cilastatin sodium in normal subjects and patients with renal failure.", Br J Clin Pharmacol 18 (2): 183–193