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An Overview of Rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)

October 2, 2012


Brand Name: Rifampin
Other Names: RIF, Rifadin, Rimactane

What is rifampin?

Rifampin is an antibacterial prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB). Rifampin is also FDA-approved to treat people who have the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis but have no symptoms. TB 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.

Rifampin 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 rifampin 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 rifampin to treat:

  • Latent TB infection to prevent the infection from advancing to active TB disease.
  • Active TB disease.
  • Bartonella infections (also called bartonellis) that occur in the central nervous system. (This is an "off-label" use.)
  • Other Bartonella infections that are severe. (This is an "off-label" use.)

What should I tell my health care provider before taking rifampin?

Before taking rifampin, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to rifampin 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 rifampin 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 rifampin and the other medicines you take.

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

How should I take rifampin?

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

How should rifampin be stored?

  • Store rifampin capsules in a dry place and avoid excessive heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed.
  • Store rifampin intravenous (IV) injection out of excessive heat (temperatures above 104°F [40°C]) and protect it from light.
  • Safely throw away rifampin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
  • Keep rifampin and all medicines out of reach of children.

Where can I find more information about rifampin?

More information about rifampin 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
Tuberculosis (TB) Fact Sheet
Questions and Answers About Tuberculosis
More on Treating Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS