Why Is It Important to Look at Cross-Reactivity Among Beta-Lactams?

Meghan Jeffres, PharmD, explains the importance of discussing cross-reactivity among beta-lactams.

Meghan Jeffres, PharmD, assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy, explains the importance of discussing cross-reactivity among beta-lactams.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“The reason we are discussing cross-reactivity among beta-lactams and why this has become such a ‘hot-button’ issue is that the number of people labeled as penicillin-allergic in the United States is anywhere between 10% and 15%. We think that with this particular group—because they are labeled as penicillin-allergic—physicians and the prescribers avoid using beta-lactams.

When you avoid using beta-lactams, you increase the use of vancomycin and flouroquinolones. The use of those secondary antibiotics increases cost, increases super infections, and decreases clinical outcomes. They are inferior to beta-lactams.

Therefore, we want to decrease the fear of using beta-lactams in patients that are labeled as penicillin-allergic, [and this is why] we are spending a lot of time talking about cross-reactivity in general versus cross-reactivity specifically.”