For many antibiotics, the convenient one-fits-all dosing regimen had to be abandoned. Owing to highly variable pharmacokinetics, therapeutic drug monitoring has become an indispensable prerequisite. It is based on a suitable measuring method, sample materials, and standardization. Appropriate quality control including external quality assessment (EQA) is essential. For many antibiotics, EQAs have been established for many decades, whereas others have only lately been introduced. This article gives an insight into the state of the art regarding the therapeutic drug monitoring of antibiotics regarding standardization, EQAs, and reference measurement procedures (RMPs).
An overview of the currently available international EQA schemes for antibiotics and a literature overview of available RMPs are given. EQAs including gentamicin and vancomycin have been offered by German providers for more than 25 years. The period 2000–2020 was selected for a detailed analysis. The experiences with a new EQA including linezolid, meropenem, and piperacillin are described.
EQAs for gentamicin and vancomycin are provided in many countries. Those for linezolid, meropenem, and piperacillin do not seem to be very common. Most of the antibiotics monitored for decades are measured by commercially available assays. EQAs for linezolid, meropenem, and piperacillin introduced in 2018 were rapidly accepted in Germany. Methods reported in this study were HPLC based either with UV or mass spectrometric detection. The number of participants succeeding was comparable between UV and mass spectrometry. Candidate RMPs for gentamicin, vancomycin, and linezolid based on isotope dilution mass spectrometry were published.
EQAs are offered regularly for many antibiotics worldwide. The results of EQAs in Germany generally compare well, but there is potential for improvement. Both immunoassays and HPLC-based methods work properly in EQAs evaluated in Germany. From a quality control perspective, fast and inexpensive methods may be selected without endangering the patient's health based on clinical needs.