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Rifampin is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Peak serum concentrations in healthy adults and pediatric populations vary widely from individual to individual. Following a single 600 mg oral dose of rifampin in healthy adults, the peak serum concentration averages 7 mcg/mL but may vary from 4 to 32 mcg/mL. Absorption of rifampin is reduced by about 30% when the drug is ingested with food.
Rifampin is widely distributed throughout the body. It is present in effective concentrations in many organs and body fluids, including cerebrospinal fluid. Rifampin is about 80% protein bound. Most of the unbound fraction is not ionized and, therefore, diffuses freely into tissues.
In healthy adults, the mean biological half-life of rifampin in serum averages 3.35 ± 0.66 hours after a 600 mg oral dose, with increases up to 5.08 ± 2.45 hours reported after a 900 mg dose. With repeated administration, the half-life decreases and reaches average values of approximately 2 to 3 hours. The half-life does not differ in patients with renal failure at doses not exceeding 600 mg daily, and consequently, no dosage adjustment is required. The half-life of rifampin at a dose of 720 mg daily has not been established in patients with renal failure. Following a single 900 mg oral dose of rifampin in patients with varying degrees of renal insufficiency, the mean half-life increased from 3.6 hours in healthy adults to 5.0, 7.3, and 11.0 hours in patients with glomerular filtration rates of 30 to 50 mL/min, less than 30 mL/min, and in anuric patients, respectively. Refer to the WARNINGS section for information regarding patients with hepatic insufficiency.
After absorption, rifampin is rapidly eliminated in the bile, and an enterohepatic circulation ensues. During this process, rifampin undergoes progressive deacetylation so that nearly all the drug in the bile is in this form in about 6 hours. This metabolite has antibacterial activity. Intestinal reabsorption is reduced by deacetylation, and elimination is facilitated. Up to 30% of a dose is excreted in the urine, with about half of this being unchanged drug.
After intravenous administration of a 300 or 600 mg dose of rifampin infused over 30 minutes to healthy male volunteers (n=12), mean peak plasma concentrations were 9.0 ± 3.0 and 17.5 ± 5.0 mcg/mL, respectively. Total body clearances after the 300 and 600 mg IV doses were 0.19 ± 0.06 and 0.14 ± 0.03 L/hr/kg, respectively. Volumes of distribution at steady state were 0.66 ± 0.14 and 0.64 ± 0.11 L/kg for the 300 and 600 mg IV doses, respectively. After intravenous administration of 300 or 600 mg doses, rifampin plasma concentrations in these volunteers remained detectable for 8 and 12 hours, respectively (see Table).
Plasma Concentrations (mean ± standard deviation,
|Rifampin Dosage IV||30 min||1 hr||2 hr||4 hr||8 hr||12 hr|
|300 mg||8.9±2.9||4.9±1.3||4.0±1.3||2.5±1.0||1.1±0.6||< 0.4|
Plasma concentrations after the 600 mg dose, which were disproportionately higher (up to 30% greater than expected) than those found after the 300 mg dose, indicated that the elimination of larger doses was not as rapid.
After repeated once-a-day infusions (3 hr duration) of 600 mg in patients (n=5) for 7 days, concentrations of IV rifampin decreased from 5.81 ± 3.38 mcg/mL 8 hours after the infusion on day 1 to 2.6 ± 1.88 mcg/mL 8 hours after the infusion on day 7.
Rifampin is widely distributed throughout the body. It is present in effective concentrations in many organs and body fluids, including cerebrospinal fluid. Rifampin is about 80% protein bound. Most of the unbound fraction is not ionized and therefore diffuses freely into tissues.
Rifampin is rapidly eliminated in the bile and undergoes progressive enterohepatic circulation and deacetylation to the primary metabolite, 25-desacetyl-rifampin. This metabolite is microbiologically active. Less than 30% of the dose is excreted in the urine as rifampin or metabolites. Serum concentrations do not differ in patients with renal failure at a studied dose of 300 mg and consequently, no dosage adjustment is required.
In one study, pediatric patients 6 to 58 months old were given rifampin suspended in simple syrup or as dry powder mixed with applesauce at a dose of 10 mg/kg body weight. Peak serum concentrations of 10.7 ± 3.7 and 11.5 ± 5.1 mcg/mL were obtained 1 hour after preprandial ingestion of the drug suspension and the applesauce mixture, respectively. After the administration of either preparation, the t1/2 of rifampin averaged 2.9 hours. It should be noted that in other studies in pediatric populations, at doses of 10 mg/kg body weight, mean peak serum concentrations of 3.5 mcg/mL to 15 mcg/mL have been reported.
In pediatric patients 0.25 to 12.8 years old (n=12), the mean peak serum concentration of rifampin at the end of a 30 minute infusion of approximately 300 mg/m2 was 25.9 ± 1.3 mcg/mL; individual peak concentrations 1 to 4 days after initiation of therapy ranged from 11.7 to 41.5 mcg/mL; individual peak concentrations 5 to 14 days after initiation of therapy were 13.6 to 37.4 mcg/mL. The individual serum half-life of rifampin changed from 1.04 to 3.81 hours early in therapy to 1.17 to 3.19 hours 5 to 14 days after therapy was initiated.
Mechanism of Action
Rifampin inhibits DNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity in susceptible Mycobacterium tuberculosis organisms. Specifically, it interacts with bacterial RNA polymerase but does not inhibit the mammalian enzyme.
Organisms resistant to rifampin are likely to be resistant to other rifamycins.
In the treatment of both tuberculosis and the meningococcal carrier state (see INDICATIONS AND USAGE), the small number of resistant cells present within large populations of susceptible cells can rapidly become predominant. In addition, resistance to rifampin has been determined to occur as single-step mutations of the DNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Since resistance can emerge rapidly, appropriate susceptibility tests should be performed in the event of persistent positive cultures.
Activity in vitro and in vivo
Rifampin has bactericidal activity in vitro against slow and intermittently growing M tuberculosis organisms.
Rifampin has been shown to be active against most strains of the following microorganisms, both in vitro and in clinical infections as described in the INDICATIONS AND USAGE section.
Aerobic Gram-Negative Microorganisms
The following in vitro data are available, but their clinical significance is unknown.
Rifampin exhibits in vitro activity against most strains of the following microorganisms; however, the safety and effectiveness of rifampin in treating clinical infections due to these microorganisms have not been established in adequate and well-controlled trials.
Aerobic Gram-Positive Microorganisms
Staphylococcus aureus (including
Methicillin-Resistant S. aureus/MRSA)
Aerobic Gram-Negative Microorganisms
β-lactamase production should have no effect on rifampin activity.
Prior to initiation of therapy, appropriate specimens should be collected for identification of the infecting organism and in vitro susceptibility tests.
In vitro testing for Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates:
Two standardized in vitro susceptibility methods are available for testing rifampin against M tuberculosis organisms. The agar proportion method (CDC or CLSI(1) M24-A) utilizes Middlebrook 7H10 medium impregnated with rifampin at a final concentration of 1.0 mcg/mL to determine drug resistance. After three weeks of incubation MIC99 values are calculated by comparing the quantity of organisms growing in the medium containing drug to the control cultures. Mycobacterial growth in the presence of drug, of at least 1% of the growth in the control culture, indicates resistance.
The radiometric broth method employs the BACTEC 460 machine to compare the growth index from untreated control cultures to cultures grown in the presence of 2.0 mcg/mL of rifampin. Strict adherence to the manufacturer's instructions for sample processing and data interpretation is required for this assay.
Susceptibility test results obtained by the two different methods can only be compared if the appropriate rifampin concentration is used for each test method as indicated above. Both procedures require the use of M tuberculosis H37Rv ATCC 27294 as a control organism.
The clinical relevance of in vitro susceptibility test results for mycobacterial species other than M tuberculosis using either the radiometric or the proportion method has not been determined.
In vitro testing for Neisseria meningitidis isolates
Quantitative methods that are used to determine minimum inhibitory concentrations provide reproducible estimates of the susceptibility of bacteria to antimicrobial compounds. One such standardized procedure uses a standardized dilution method2,4 (broth, agar, or microdilution) or equivalent with rifampin powder. The MIC values obtained should be interpreted according to the following criteria for Neisseria meningitidis:
|≤ 1||(S) Susceptible|
|≥ 4||(R) Resistant|
A report of “susceptible” indicates that the pathogen is likely to be inhibited by usually achievable concentrations of the antimicrobial compound in the blood. A report of “intermediate” indicates that the result should be considered equivocal, and if the microorganism is not fully susceptible to alternative, clinically feasible drugs, the test should be repeated. This category implies possible clinical applicability in body sites where the drug is physiologically concentrated or in situations where the maximum acceptable dose of drug can be used. This category also provides a buffer zone that prevents small-uncontrolled technical factors from causing major discrepancies in interpretation. A report of “resistant” indicates that usually achievable concentrations of the antimicrobial compound in the blood are unlikely to be inhibitory and that other therapy should be selected.
Measurement of MIC or minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBC) and achieved antimicrobial compound concentrations may be appropriate to guide therapy in some infections. (See CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY section for further information on drug concentrations achieved in infected body sites and other pharmacokinetic properties of this antimicrobial drug product.)
Standardized susceptibility test procedures require the use of laboratory control microorganisms. The use of these microorganisms does not imply clinical efficacy (see INDICATIONS AND USAGE); they are used to control the technical aspects of the laboratory procedures. Standard rifampin powder should give the following MIC values:
|Staphylococcus aureus||ATCC 29213||0.008 - 0.06|
|Enterococcus faecalis||ATCC 29212||1 - 4|
|Escherichia coli||ATCC 25922||8 - 32|
|Pseudomonas aeruginosa||ATCC 27853||32 - 64|
|Haemophilus influenzae||ATCC 49247||0.25 - 1|
Quantitative methods that require measurement of zone diameters provide reproducible estimates of the susceptibility of bacteria to antimicrobial compounds. One such standardized procedure3,4 that has been recommended for use with disks to test the susceptibility of microorganisms to rifampin uses the 5 mcg rifampin disk. Interpretation involves correlation of the diameter obtained in the disk test with the MIC for rifampin.
Reports from the laboratory providing results of the standard single-disk susceptibility test with a 5 mcg rifampin disk should be interpreted according to the following criteria for Neisseria meningitidis:
|Zone Diameter (mm)||Interpretation|
|≥ 20||(S) Susceptible|
|< 16||(R) Resistant|
Interpretation should be as stated above for results using dilution techniques.
As with standard dilution techniques, diffusion methods require the use of laboratory control microorganisms. The use of these microorganisms does not imply clinical efficacy (see INDICATIONS AND USAGE); they are used to control the technical aspects of the laboratory procedures. The 5 mcg rifampin disk should provide the following zone diameters in these quality control strains:
|Microorganism||Zone Diameter (mm)|
|S. aureus||ATCC 25923||26 - 34|
|E. coli||ATCC 25922||8 - 10|
|H. influenzae||ATCC 49247||22 - 30|
1. Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute. Susceptibility Testing of Mycobacteria, Nocardiae, and Other Aerobic Actinomycetes; Approved Standard CLSI Document M24-A, Vol. 23, No. 18, CLSI, Villanova, PA, 2003.
2. Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute. Methods for Dilution Antimicrobial Susceptibility Tests for Bacteria that Grow Aerobically -- Eight Edition. Approved Standard CLSI Document M7-A8, Vol. 29, No. 2, CLSI, Villanova, PA, January 2009.
3. Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute. Performance Standards for Antimicrobial Disk Susceptibility Tests -- Tenth Edition. Approved Standard CLSI Document M2-A10, Vol. 29, No. 41, CLSI, Villanova, PA, January 2009.
4. Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute. Performance Standards for Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing; Twentieth Informational Supplement, CLSI Document M100-S20, Vol. 30, No. 1, CLSI, Villanova, PA, January 2010.
Last reviewed on RxList: 3/18/2013
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
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