Vancomycin and teichoplanin (not licensed in Canada but used in other countries), are the only glycopeptide antibiotics. They have a mechanism of action that is similar to beta-lactams with which they share the designation “cell-wall active” antibiotics. Their spectrum of activity is limited to Gram positive bacteria and they are often the only available agents for infections caused by resistant strains of staphylococci and enterococci.
In the last number of years, increases in hospital-acquired vancomycin-resistant enterococcus (VRE) infections has occurred and pushed regulatory agencies to “fast track” some new antibiotics including linezolid. These agents must be used very judiciously.