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 as a way to eliminate the bacterium from their noses and throats. (The bacterium Neisseria meningitidis can cause a serious infection called meningitis.)
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 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 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.)
- Bartonella infections that occur in the inner lining of the heart (endocardium) in people with decreased kidney function. (This is an “off-label” use.)
- Other Bartonella infections that are severe. (This is an “off-label” use.)
The above list may not include all of the HIV-related uses of rifampin 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 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 pills, difficulty remembering to take pills, or any health conditions that may prevent your use of intravenous (IV) medicines.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether rifampin can harm an unborn baby is unknown. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking rifampin when pregnant.
- 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. Rifampin may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how rifampin works. 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 at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). Store the capsules in a dry place and avoid excessive heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed.
- Store rifampin IV injection at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C), and avoid excessive heat (temperatures above 104°F [40°C]). Protect the IV injection from light.
- Do not use rifampin if the original seal over the bottle or vial opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away rifampin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA’s guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep rifampin and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about rifampin?
More information about rifampin is available:
Last Reviewed: February 27, 2015
Last Updated: February 27, 2015