Generic Name: Rifampicin Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is rifampicin used for?

Rifampicin belongs to a group of medicines called rifamycin antibiotics. It can be used to treat a variety of infections such as:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Leprosy
  • Legionnaires Disease
  • Brucellosis and serious staphylococcal infections

It may also be given to ‘carriers’, these are people who may be infected but do not have the symptoms of the infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae (which causes the flu) and Neisseria meningitidis (which causes meningitis).

How should I take rifampicin?

Rifampin comes as a capsule to take by mouth. It should be taken with a full glass of water on an empty stomach, 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. When rifampin is used to treat tuberculosis, it is taken once daily. When rifampin is used to prevent the spread of Neisseria meningitidis bacteria to other people, it is taken twice daily for two days. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take rifampin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you cannot swallow the capsules. Your pharmacist can prepare a liquid for you to take instead.

If you are taking rifampin to treat tuberculosis, your doctor may tell you to take rifampin for several months or longer. Continue to take rifampin until you finish the prescription even if you feel better, and be careful not to miss doses. If you stop taking rifampin too soon, your infection may not be completely treated and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics. If you miss doses of rifampin, you may develop uncomfortable or serious symptoms when you begin to take the medication again.

How do I store rifampicin?

Rifampicin is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store rifampicin in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of rifampicin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush rifampicin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using rifampicin?

Do not take Rifampicin if you:

  • are allergic to rifampicin or another rifamycin antibiotic or any of the other ingredients of this medicine (listed in section 6).
  • have jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes)
  • you are taking saquinavir or ritonavir (as you may develop liver problems if you are also taking rifampicin)

Warnings and precautions

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking Rifampicin if you:

  • have or have ever had problems with your liver
  • have kidney problems and are taking more than 600 mg of
  • Rifampicin per day
  • are diabetic; as your diabetes may become more difficult to control
  • have a rare blood problem called porphyria
  • are underweight, elderly, suffer from liver problems or under 2 years old and also taking isoniazid; your doctor may check your liver function
  • wear contact lenses. Taking Rifampicin may permanently stain soft contact lenses.

Blood Tests

Your doctor will need to check your blood before you take this medicine. This will help your doctor know if any changes happen to your blood after taking this medicine. You may also need to have regular blood tests to check how your liver is working.

It is possible that Rifampicin may interfere with some blood tests. If you need a blood test to check bilirubin, folate or vitamin B12 levels tell your doctor you are taking Rifampicin as it may affect your results.

Is it safe to take rifampicin during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of rifampicin?

Rifampin may cause side effects. Your urine, sweat, sputum, and tears may turn purple or red; this effect is not harmful. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • itching
  • flushing
  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • lack of coordination
  • difficulty concentrating
  • confusion
  • changes in behavior
  • muscle weakness
  • pain in the arms, hands, feet, or legs
  • heartburn
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • painful or irregular menstrual periods
  • vision changes

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • rash
  • hives
  • fever
  • blisters
  • swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • dark urine
  • joint pain or swelling
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with rifampicin?

Rifampicin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or have recently taken any other medicines, including medicines obtained without a prescription, or the following:

  • anticoagulants to thin the blood eg. warfarin
  • anti-inflammatory medicine called corticosteroids eg. prednisolone
  • medicine used after an organ transplant eg. ciclosporin, sirolimus, tacrolimus medicine to treat a heart condition eg. digoxin, digitoxin, quinidine, disopyramide, mexiletine, propafenone, tocainide, calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, nifedipine, verapamil, nimodipine, isradipine, nicardipine, nisoldipine)
  • medicine to lower blood pressure eg. bisoprolol, propranolol, losartan, enalapril
  • diuretics (water tablets) such as eplerenone
  • antidiabetic medicine eg. chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, gliclazide, rosiglitazone
  • antiepileptics eg. phenytoin
  • strong painkillers eg. morphine, methadone
  • sedatives (sleeping tablets) or medicine for anxiety eg. amobarbital, diazepam, zopiclone, zolpidem
  • hormone-blocking medicine such as tamoxifen, toremifene, gestrinone
  • medicine containing hormones such as oestrogen, progestogens eg. hormonal contraceptives. If you are taking an oral contraceptive to prevent pregnancy while you are taking Rifampicin, the contraceptive may not work. (see “Pregnancy and breast-feeding”).
  • thyroid medicine eg. levothyroxine
  • medicine for mental illness eg. haloperidol, aripiprazole
  • antidepressants such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline
  • antibiotics to treat infection eg. dapsone, chloramphenicol, clarithromycin, doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, telithromycin
  • anti-fungal medicine eg. fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole
  • anti-viral medicine eg. saquinavir, ritonavir, indinavir, efavirenz, amprenavir, nelfinavir, atazanavir, lopinavir, nevirapine
  • praziquantel, for worm infections • medicine to lower fat levels (cholesterol, triglycerides) in the blood eg. simvastatin, clofibrate
  • cancer medicine eg. irinotecan, imatinib • quinine, often used for night cramps
  • riluzole, used in motor neurone disease (MND)
  • theophylline, for asthma
  • anti-sickness medicine eg. Ondansetron
  • atovaquone, for malaria or pneumonia
  • antacids used for indigestion. Take Rifampicin at least 1 hour before taking antacids.
  • other medicines used for tuberculosis such as isoniazid or p-aminosalicylic acid (PAS). PAS and Rifampicin should be taken at least 8 hours apart.

Does food or alcohol interact with rifampicin?

Rifampicin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with rifampicin?

Rifampicin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of rifampicin for an adult?

Tuberculosis (along with another medicine)

For patients weighing less than 50 kg the usual daily dose is 450 mg,

For patients weighing 50 kg or more, the usual daily dose is 600 mg.

Leprosy (along with another medicine)

For patients weighing less than 50 kg the usual daily dose is 450 mg,

for patients weighing 50 kg or more, the usual daily dose is 600 mg.

A single dose of 600 mg once a month may be given.

Legionnaires Disease, brucellosis, serious staphylococcal infections (along with other medicine)

The recommended daily dose is 600 mg –1200 mg in 2 to 4 divided

doses throughout the day.

Prevention of meningococcal meningitis

The recommended dose is 600 mg twice daily for 2 days

Prevention of Haemophilus influenzae infection

Adults and children 1 month and above

For members of a household exposed to the infection the

recommended daily dose is 20 mg/kg body weight, up to a

maximum of 600 mg, once daily for 4 days.

Children under 1 month

The recommended dose is 10 mg/kg body weight once daily for 4 days.

Older people

Your doctor may give you a lower dose than those stated above

What is the dose of rifampicin for a child?

Tuberculosis (along with another medicine)

Children above 3 months

The recommended daily dose is 15 (10-20) mg/kg body weight, up to a maximum of 600 mg.

Leprosy (along with another medicine)

For paucibacillary forms, Rifampicin should be administered with dapsone for a period of 6 months. For multibacillary forms, Rifampicin should be administered with dapsone and clofazimine for a period of 12 months. The recommended dose is:

Over 10 years: 450 mg once a month.

Under 10 years: 10 to 20 mg/kg bodyweight once a month.

Legionnaires Disease, brucellosis, serious staphylococcal infections (along with other medicine)

Children 1 month and above: 10 mg/kg body weight every 12 hours for 2 days.

Under 1 month: 5 mg/kg body weight every 12 hours for 2 days.

The dose must not exceed 600 mg/dose.

Prevention of Haemophilus influenzae infection

Children 1 month and above

For members of a household exposed to the infection the recommended daily dose is 20 mg/kg body weight, up to a maximum of 600 mg, once daily for 4 days.

Children under 1 month

The recommended dose is 10 mg/kg body weight once daily for 4 days.

How is rifampicin available?

Rifampicin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Capsule, oral: 150 mg; 300 mg

Solution, Intravenous: 600 mg (1ea)

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of rifampicin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.