methenamine hippurate in the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs)

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Methenamine hippurate in the prevention of urinary tract infections

  • is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for prophylaxis of recurrent UTI in patients age 6 years and older, and studies have demonstrated its efficacy as an antimicrobial-sparing alternative in this patient population (1)
  • works as an antiseptic
  • does not pose a risk of organisms developing resistance
  • in an acidic environment, methenamine is hydrolyzed to ammonia and formaldehyde
  • mechanism of action
    • driven by the formation of bactericidal formaldehyde, which possesses nonspecific antimicrobial activity by denaturing proteins and nucleic acid of bacteria
    • has little antimicrobial activity in an alkaline environment, as formation of formaldehyde does not occur until the pH of the environment falls below 6
      • to ensure this reaction occurs, some treatment regimens include the use of ascorbic acid to further acidify the urinary environment

A pragmatic, multicentre, randomised, open label, non-inferiority trial compared clinical effectiveness of low dose antibiotic prophylaxis, the current standard treatment for recurrent UTI prevention, with the urinary antiseptic methenamine hippurate (2)

  • showed that methenamine hippurate is not inferior to the current standard care of daily low-dose antibiotics in preventing recurrent urinary tract infections in women during 12 months of prophylactic treatment
    • efficacy of both treatments in the primary and sensitivity analyses was found to be comparable, suggesting that methenamine hippurate might be appropriate for women with a history of recurrent urinary tract infection
    • demonstrated high levels of efficacy from methenamine hippurate in terms of UTI prevention, and have shown that this efficacy is comparable to the current guideline recommended prophylaxis (that is, long course, low dose antibiotic treatment)
  • increased rates of antimicrobial resistance development associated with the antibiotic arm as shown in the primary uropathogen E coli might encourage patients and clinicians to consider methenamine hippurate as a first line treatment for UTI prevention in women


  1. Chwa A, Kavanagh K, Linnebur SA, Fixen DR. Evaluation of methenamine for urinary tract infection prevention in older adults: a review of the evidence. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2019;10:2042098619876749. Published 2019 Sep 23. doi:10.1177/2042098619876749
  2. Harding C, Mossop H, Homer T, Chadwick T, King W, Carnell S et al. Alternative to prophylactic antibiotics for the treatment of recurrent urinary tract infections in women: multicentre, open label, randomised, non-inferiority trial BMJ 2022; 376 :e068229 doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-0068229

Last edited 05/2022 and last reviewed 05/2022