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AIDSinfo Drug Database

AIDSinfo Drug Database

Drugs by class



Ethambutol Hydrochloride  Audio icon

Other Names: EMB, Myambutol, ethambutol
Drug Class: Opportunistic Infections and Coinfections

Chemical Image:
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ethambutol hydrochloride
ethambutol hydrochloride
Molecular Weight: 277.233

What is ethambutol hydrochloride?

Ethambutol hydrochloride is an antibacterial prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of active tuberculosis (TB) disease. Ethambutol hydrochloride is always used in combination with at least one other anti-TB medicine. Active TB disease 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.

Ethambutol hydrochloride 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 ethambutol hydrochloride 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 ethambutol hydrochloride to:

  • Prevent:
  • Treat:
    • Active TB disease.
    • Disseminated MAC disease. (This is an “off-label” use.)
The above list may not include all of the HIV-related uses of ethambutol hydrochloride 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 ethambutol hydrochloride?

Before taking ethambutol hydrochloride, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to ethambutol hydrochloride 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 ethambutol hydrochloride can harm an unborn baby is unknown. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking ethambutol hydrochloride 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. Ethambutol hydrochloride may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how ethambutol hydrochloride works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between ethambutol hydrochloride and the other medicines you take.

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

How should I take ethambutol hydrochloride?

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

How should ethambutol hydrochloride be stored?

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

Where can I find more information about ethambutol hydrochloride?

More information about ethambutol hydrochloride is available:

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

Last Reviewed: February 27, 2015

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