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What does it do?

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

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney problems.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

How should you take it?

Take rifabutin regularly as directed with a glass of water. Keep taking it until the course is finished, even if you start to feel better.

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 rifabutin, your infection may not be fully treated.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with rifabutin including:

  • fluconazole (e.g. Diflucan®)
  • levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pill (e.g. Postinor-1®)

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

Reduced number of blood cells that fight infections or help your blood to clot - symptoms include: fever, chills, sore throat or generally feeling unwell, or easy or unusual bruising or bleeding

Changes in vision, eye pain

Tell your doctor immediately

Skin rash

Tell your doctor

Joint, muscle or bone aches and pains

Nausea, stomach upset

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:

  • Limit alcohol intake while taking rifabutin. 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 rifabutin, and for four weeks after stopping. Talk to your doctor.
  • Do not stop taking rifabutin without talking to your doctor first.

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

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. March 2023

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 Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. 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