Reviewed on 6/30/2022

What Is Rifabutin and How Does It Work?

Rifabutin is a prescription medication used for the prevention of Mycobacterium avium complex disease in people with advanced HIV infection. 

  • Rifabutin is available under the following different brand names: Mycobutin

What Are Dosages of Rifabutin?

Adult dosage


  • 150 mg

Oral solution

  • 10 mg /mL
  • 20 mg /mL

Mycobacterium avium Complex Prophylaxis

Adult dosage

  • 300 mg orally every day

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows: 

  • See “Dosages”.

What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Rifabutin?

Common side effects of Rifabutin include:

  • diarrhea,
  • stomach upset or pain,
  • changes in taste,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • belching,
  • bloating,
  • loss of appetite,
  • headache,
  • skin rash,
  • itching, or
  • red, orange, or brown discoloration of the skin, tears, sweat, saliva, urine, or stools (this side effect is harmless and will disappear when the medication is stopped).

Serious side effects of Rifabutin include:

  • easy bleeding or bruising,
  • signs of a new infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat/cough),
  • muscle weakness or pain,
  • joint pain or swelling,
  • eye pain or redness,
  • vision problems,
  • chest pain or pressure,
  • persistent nausea or vomiting,
  • unusual weakness or tiredness, or
  • yellowing eyes or skin.

Rare side effects of Rifabutin include:

  • none 

Seek medical care or call 911 at once if you have the following serious side effects:

  • Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, arm or leg weakness, trouble walking, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady, very stiff muscles, high fever, profuse sweating, or tremors;
  • Serious eye symptoms such as sudden vision loss, blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights;
  • Serious heart symptoms such as fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeats; fluttering in your chest; shortness of breath; sudden dizziness, lightheartedness, or passing out.
This is not a complete list of side effects and other serious side effects or health problems that may occur as a result of the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may report side effects or health problems to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

What Other Drugs Interact with Rifabutin?

If your medical doctor is using this medicine to treat your pain, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor, health care provider, or pharmacist first.

  • Rifabutin has severe interactions with at least 27 other drugs.
  • Rifabutin has serious interactions with at least 208 other drugs.
  • Rifabutin has moderate interactions with at least 214 other drugs.
  • Rifabutin has minor interactions with at least 34 other drugs.

This information does not contain all possible interactions or adverse effects. Visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker for any drug interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist about all your products. Keep a list of all your medications with you and share this information with your doctor and pharmacist. Check with your health care professional or doctor for additional medical advice, or if you have health questions or concerns.

What Are Warnings and Precautions for Rifabutin?


  • Hypersensitivity to rifamycins
  • Concomitant live bacterial vaccines

Effects of drug abuse

  • None

Short-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Rifabutin?”

Long-Term Effects

  • See “What Are Side Effects Associated with Using Rifabutin?”


  • Monitor hematologic status
  • Eye pain, redness, and loss of vision may indicate the inflammatory ocular condition
  • Joint stiffness, swelling, tenderness, or paresthesia may indicate arthralgias or myositis
  • May have the brown-orange color of urine, feces, saliva, sputum, perspiration, tears, and skin
  • Severe Cutaneous Adverse Reactions
    • Severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCAR), such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), and acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP) reported
    • Closely monitor patients that develop a skin rash; discontinue therapy if lesions progress
    • Specifically, for DRESS, a multi-system potential life-threatening SCAR, the time to onset of first symptoms may be prolonged; DRESS is a clinical diagnosis, and its clinical presentation remains the basis for decision making; an early withdrawal of therapy is essential because the syndrome’s mortality and visceral involvement (e.g., liver, bone marrow or kidney)

Pregnancy and Lactation

  • Rifabutin crosses the placenta
  • Lactation
    • No studies have examined if excreted in breast milk; however, women with HIV infection should not breastfeed

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