What is amphotericin B?
Amphotericin B is an antifungal prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of several types of fungal infections, such as histoplasmosis (also known as Histoplasma capsulatum infection), cryptococcosis, and aspergillosis. Amphotericin B is also FDA-approved for treating two types of leishmaniasis, which is an infection caused by parasitic protozoans. The different formulations of amphotericin B are FDA-approved for different uses.
Many of the infections for which amphotericin B treatment is FDA-approved are opportunistic infections. 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.
Amphotericin B 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 amphotericin B 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 amphotericin B to:
- Visceral leishmaniasis from recurring (called secondary prophylaxis or maintenance therapy). (This is an “off-label” use.)
Treat the following fungal infections:
- Cryptococcosis, specifically cryptococcal meningitis.
- Invasive aspergillosis.
- Esophageal candidiasis, a type of mucocutaneous candidiasis (also called mucosal candidiasis).
- Penicilliosis (also known as Penicillium marneffei infection). (This is an “off-label” use.)
Treat the following leishmaniasis infections:
- Visceral leishmaniasis.
- Cutaneous leishmaniasis.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking amphotericin B?
Before taking amphotericin B, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to amphotericin B 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 amphotericin B can harm an unborn baby is unknown. Amphotericin B should only be used during pregnancy if the possible benefit outweighs the potential risks to the fetus.
- 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 amphotericin B and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from amphotericin B. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take amphotericin B?
Take amphotericin B according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much amphotericin B to take and when to take it. Before you start amphotericin B and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should amphotericin B be stored?
- Amphotericin B comes in many different formulations. Each formulation has its own storage instructions. Please see the FDA labels for specific instructions on how to store the different formulations.
- Safely throw away amphotericin B that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
- Keep amphotericin B and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about amphotericin B?
More information about amphotericin B is available:
Last Reviewed: May 7, 2013
Last Updated: May 7, 2013