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What does it do?

Rifampicin is used to treat or prevent tuberculosis and other infections.

How should you take it?

Take rifampicin regularly as directed. Take each dose on an empty stomach - one hour before or two hours after food. Keep taking it until the course is finished, even if you start to feel better.
Take the tablets and capsules with a glass of water.
Measure the liquid carefully with an oral syringe or measuring spoon. Shake the bottle well before measuring each dose.

What if you forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and carry on as normal. Do not take two doses at the same time.
If you often forget to take rifampicin, your infection may not be fully treated.

Can you take other medicines?

Rifampicin can alter the effects of many medicines, sometimes with severe results.

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking including vitamins, herbal products (e.g. St John’s wort) or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Symptoms of liver problems including: yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, pale bowel motions, abdominal pain

Easy/unusual bruising or bleeding

Tell your doctor immediately

Skin rash

Tell your doctor

Nausea, stomach upset

Headache, dizziness

Muscle weakness or pain

Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, bone aches)

Tell your doctor if troublesome

Red/orange body fluids

Do not wear soft contact lenses (they may be permanently stained)

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have liver problems or porphyria.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Limit alcohol intake while taking rifampicin. Alcohol may increase the risk of liver problems.
  • If you are taking an oral contraceptive you will need to use additional birth control methods while taking rifampicin, and for four weeks after stopping. Talk to your doctor.
  • Do not stop taking rifampicin without talking to your doctor first.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. December 2017

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed