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An Overview of Rifabutin (Mycobutin)

October 3, 2012


Other Names: Mycobutin, RFB

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. 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.

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."

What HIV-related opportunistic infections is rifabutin used for?

The Guidelines for Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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.)

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.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. 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).
  • Keep the bottle of rifabutin tightly closed.
  • Safely throw away rifabutin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
  • Keep rifabutin and all medicines out of reach of children.

Where can I find more information about rifabutin?

More information about rifabutin is available:

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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
See Also
More on Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC) Treatment