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An Overview of Rifabutin (Mycobutin)

June 19, 2017

Other Names: Mycobutin, RFB
Drug Class: Opportunistic Infections and Coinfections

What Is Rifabutin?

Rifabutin is an antibacterial prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) disease in people with advanced HIV Infection. Disseminated MAC disease, also called disseminated MAC infection, is an opportunistic infection of HIV. An opportunistic infection is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems -- such as those infected with HIV -- than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about opportunistic infections, read the AIDSinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.

Rifabutin can also be used off-label to prevent and treat other opportunistic infections of HIV infection. Off-label use refers to use of an FDA-approved medicine in a manner different from that described on the medicine label. Good medical practice and the best interests of a patient sometimes require that a medicine be used off-label.

How Is Rifabutin Used in People With HIV?

The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA-HIVMA), includes recommendations on the HIV-related uses of rifabutin to:

  • Prevent:
    • Disseminated MAC disease from occurring the first time (called primary prophylaxis) and from recurring (called secondary prophylaxis or maintenance therapy).
  • Treat:
    • Disseminated MAC disease. (This is an off-label use.)
    • Latent tuberculosis (TB) infection to prevent the infection from advancing to active TB disease. (This is an off-label use.)
    • Active TB disease. (This is an off-label use.)

The above list may not include all of the HIV-related uses of rifabutin recommended in the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Some recommended uses, such as uses in certain rare circumstances, may have been omitted.

What Should I Tell My Health Care Provider Before Taking Rifabutin?

Before taking rifabutin, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to rifabutin or any other medicines.
  • About any medical conditions you have or have had, for example, diabetes or liver problems.
  • About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take pills.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether rifabutin can harm an unborn baby is unknown. Rifabutin should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking rifabutin when pregnant.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you have HIV.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Rifabutin may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how rifabutin works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between rifabutin and the other medicines you take.

Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from rifabutin. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.

How Should I Take Rifabutin?

Take rifabutin according to your health care provider's instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much rifabutin to take and when to take it. Before you start rifabutin and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.

How Should Rifabutin Be Stored?

  • Store rifabutin capsules at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
  • Do not use rifabutin if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
  • Throw away rifabutin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
  • Keep rifabutin and all medicines out of reach of children.

Where Can I Find More Information About Rifabutin?

More information about rifabutin is available:

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Capsule.

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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.