Effective chemotherapy for combating infectious diseases has become a possibility only during the past 15 years, and the list of complex, highly potent drugs is continually changing and increasing. The dramatic consequences of this break-through in pharmacological, microbiological, and clinical science are reflected in sharply declining death rates the world over. Unfortunately, however, the plethora of new drugs and combinations of drugs may be a mixed blessing to physicians who attempt to thread their way through a maze of conflicting claims concerning such complex matters as sensitivity spectra, blood levels, potency, and safety.
Many of the new antimicrobials are clearly outstanding contributions to the art of chemotherapy and are, as such, real triumphs of pharmacological research. Others are molecular modifications of established compounds and are introduced with claims that some desired feature—such as greater potency, more rapid absorption, more sustained blood levels, reduced bacterial resistance, or fewer side effects—has been