MYCOBUTIN Capsules contain the antimycobacterial agent rifabutin, which is a semisynthetic ansamycin antibiotic derived from rifamycin S. MYCOBUTIN Capsules for oral administration contain 150 mg of rifabutin, USP, per capsule, along with the inactive ingredients microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate, red iron oxide, silica gel, sodium lauryl sulfate, titanium dioxide, and edible white ink.

The chemical name for rifabutin is 1',4-didehydro-1-deoxy-1,4-dihydro-5'-(2-methylpropyl)-1-oxorifamycin XIV (Chemical Abstracts Service, 9th Collective Index) or (9 S , 12 E , 14 S , 15 R , 16 S , 17 R , 18 R , 19 R , 20 S , 21 S , 22 E , 24 Z )-6,16,18,20- tetrahydroxy-1'-isobutyl-14-methoxy-7,9,15,17,19,21,25-hepatmethyl-spiro [9,4-(epoxypentadecal[1,11,13]trienimino)- 2 H -furo[2',3':7,8]naphth[1,2- d ]imidazole-2, 4'-piperidine]-5,10,26-(3 H ,9 H )-trione-16-acetate. Rifabutin has a molecular formula of C 46 H 62 N 4 O 11 , a molecular weight of 847.02 and the following structure:


Rifabutin is a red-violet powder soluble in chloroform and methanol, sparingly soluble in ethanol, and very slightly soluble in water (0.19 mg/mL). Its log P value (the base 10 logarithm of the partition coefficient between n-octanol and water) is 3.2 (n-octanol/water).

Following a single oral dose of 300 mg to nine healthy adult volunteers, rifabutin was readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract with mean (±SD) peak plasma levels (C max ) of 375 (±267) ng/mL (range: 141 to 1033 ng/mL) attained in 3.3 (±0.9) hours (T max range: 2 to 4 hours). Plasma concentrations post -C max declined in an apparent biphasic manner. Kinetic dose-proportionality has been established over the 300 to 600 mg dose range in nine healthy adult volunteers (crossover design) and in 16 early symptomatic human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients over a 300 to 900 mg dose range. Rifabutin was slowly eliminated from plasma in seven healthy adult volunteers, presumably because of distribution-limited elimination , with a mean terminal half-life of 45 (±17) hours (range: 16 to 69 hours). Although the systemic levels of rifabutin following multiple dosing decreased by 38%, its terminal half-life remained unchanged. Rifabutin, due to its high lipophilicity, demonstrates a high propensity for distribution and intracellular tissue uptake. Estimates of apparent steady-state distribution volume (9.3 ± 1.5 L/kg) in five HIV-positive patients, following I.V. dosing, exceed total body water by approximately 15-fold. Substantially higher intracellular tissue levels than those seen in plasma have been observed in both rat and man. The lung to plasma concentration ratio, obtained at 12 hours, was found to be approximately 6.5 in four surgical patients administered an oral dose. Mean rifabutin steady-state trough levels (C p min ss ; 24-hour post-dose) ranged from 50 to 65 ng/mL in HIV-positive patients and in healthy adult volunteers. About 85% of the drug is bound in a concentration-independent manner to plasma proteins over a concentration range of 0.05 to 1 µg/mL. Binding does not appear to be influenced by renal or hepatic dysfunction.

Mean systemic clearance (CL s /F) in healthy adult volunteers following a single oral dose was 0.69 (±0.32) L/hr/kg (range: 0.46 to 1.34 L/hr/kg). Renal and biliary clearance of unchanged drug each contribute approximately 5% to CL s /F. About 30% of the dose is excreted in the feces. A mass-balance study in three healthy adult volunteers with 14 C-labeled drug has shown that 53% of the oral dose was excreted in the urine, primarily as metabolites. Of the five metabolites that have been identified, 25-O-desacetyl and 31-hydroxy are the most predominant, and show a plasma metabolite: area under the curve ratio of 0.10 and 0.07, respectively. The former has an activity equal to the parent drug and contributes up to 10% to the total antimicrobial activity.

Absolute bioavailability assessed in five HIV-positive patients, who received both oral and I.V. doses, averaged 20%. Total recovery of radioactivity in the urine indicates that at least 53% of the orally administered rifabutin dose is absorbed from the G.I. tract. The bioavailability of rifabutin from the capsule dosage form, relative to a solution, was 85% in 12 healthy adult volunteers. High-fat meals slow the rate without influencing the extent of absorption from the capsule dosage form. The overall pharmacokinetics of rifabutin are modified only slightly by alterations in hepatic function or age. Rifabutin steady-state kinetics in early symptomatic HIV-positive patients are similar to healthy volunteers. Compared to healthy volunteers, steady-state kinetics of rifabutin are more variable in elderly patients (>70 years) and in symptomatic HIV-positive patients. Somewhat reduced drug distribution and faster elimination of rifabutin in patients with compromised renal function may result in decreased drug concentrations. The clinical implications of this are unknown.

No rifabutin disposition information is currently available in children or adolescents under 18 years of age.


Mechanism of Action

Rifabutin inhibits DNA-dependent RNA polymerase in susceptible strains of Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis but not in mammalian cells. In resistant strains of E. coli , rifabutin, like rifampin, did not inhibit this enzyme. It is not known whether rifabutin inhibits DNA-dependent RNA polymerase in Mycobacterium avium or in M. intracellulare which comprise M. avium complex (MAC).

Susceptibility Testing

In vitro susceptibility testing methods and diagnostic products used for determining minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values against M. avium complex (MAC) organisms have not been standardized. Breakpoints to determine whether clinical isolates of MAC and other mycobacterial species are susceptible or resistant to rifabutin have not been established.

In Vitro Studies

Rifabutin has demonstrated in vitro activity against M. avium complex (MAC) organisms isolated from both HIV-positive and HIV-negative people. While gene probe techniques may be used to identify these two organisms, many reported studies did not distinguish between these two species. The vast majority of isolates from MAC-infected. HIV-positive people are M. avium, whereas in HIV-negative people, about 40% of the MAC isolates are M intracellulare.

Various in vitro methodologies employing broth or solid media, with and without polysorbate 80 (Tween 80), have been used to determine rifabutin MIC values for mycobacterial species. In general, MIC values determined in broth are several fold lower than that observed with methods employing solid media. Utilization of Tween 80 in these assays has been shown to further lower MIC values. However, MIC values were substantially higher for egg based compared to agar based solid media.

Rifabutin activity against 211 MAC isolates from HIV-positive people was evaluated in vitro utilizing a radiometric broth and an agar dilution method. Results showed that 78% and 82% of these isolates had MIC 99 values of </=0.25 µg/mL and </=1.0 µg/mL, respectively, when evaluated by these two methods. Rifabutin was also shown to be active against phagocytized, M. avium complex in a mouse macrophage cell culture model.

Rifabutin has in vitro activity against many strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In one study, utilizing the radiometric broth method, each of 17 and 20 rifampin-naive clinical isolates tested from the United States and Taiwan, respectively, were shown to be susceptible to rifabutin concentrations of </=0.125 µg/mL.

Cross-resistance between rifampin and rifabutin is commonly observed with M. tuberculosis and M. avium complex isolates. Isolates of M. tuberculosis resistant to rifampin are likely to be resistant to rifabutin. Rifampicin and rifabutin MIC 99 values against 523 isolates of M. avium complex were determined utilizing the agar dilution method (Ref. Heifets, Leonid B, and Iseman, Michael D. 1985. Determination of in vitro susceptibility of Mycobacteria to Ansamycin. Am. Rev. Respir. Dis. 132 (3):710-711).

  % of Strains Susceptible/Resistant to
Different Concentrations of Rifabutin (µg/mL)
Susceptibility to
of Strains
to 0.5
Resistant to
0.5 only
to 1.0
to 2.0
Susceptible to 1.0
30 100.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Resistant to 1.0 only
163 88.3 11.7 0.0 0.0
Resistant to 5.0
105 38.0 57.1 2.9 2.0
Resistant to 10.0
225 20.0 50.2 19.6 10.2
523 49.5 36.7 9.0 4.8

Rifabutin in vitro MIC 99 values of </=0.5 µg/mL, determined by the agar dilution method, for M. kansasii, M. gordonae and M. marinum have been reported; however, the clinical significance of these results is unknown.

MYCOBUTIN Capsules are indicated for the prevention of disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) disease in patients with advanced HIV infection.

Clinical Studies

Two randomized, double-blind clinical trials (study 023 and study 027) compared MYCOBUTIN (300 mg/day) to placebo in patients with CDC-defined AIDS and CD4 counts </=200 cells/µL. These studies accrued patients from 2/90 through 2/92. Study 023 enrolled 590 patients, with a median CD4 cell count at steady entry of 42 cells/µL (mean 61). Study 027 enrolled 556 patients with a median CD4 cell count at study entry of 40 cells/µL (mean 58).

Endpoints included the following:

  1. MAC bacteremia, defined as at least one blood culture positive for M. avium complex bacteria.
  2. Clinically significant disseminated MAC disease, defined as MAC bacteremia accompanied by signs or symptoms of serious MAC infection, including one or more of the following: fever, night sweats, rigors, weight loss, worsening anemia, and/or elevations in alkaline phosphatase.
  3. Survival

MAC bacteremia

Participants who received MYCOBUTIN were one-third to one-half as likely to develop MAC bacteremia as were participants who received placebo. These results were statistically significant (study 023: p<0.001; study 027: p=0.002).

In study 023, the one-year cumulative incidence of MAC bacteremia, on an intent to treat basis, was 9% for patients randomized to MYCOBUTIN and 22% for patients randomized to placebo. In study 027, these rates were 13% and 28% for patients receiving MYCOBUTIN and placebo, respectively.

Most cases of MAC bacteremia (approximately 90% in these studies) occurred among participants whose CD4 count at study entry was </=100 cells/µL. The median and mean CD4 counts at onset of MAC bacteremia were 13 cells/µL and 24 cells/µL, respectively. These studies did not investigate the optimal time to begin MAC prophylaxis.

Clinically significant disseminated MAC disease

In association with the decreased incidence of bacteremia, patients on MYCOBUTIN showed reductions in the signs and symptoms or disseminated MAC disease, including fever, night sweats, weight loss, fatigue, abdominal pain, anemia, and hepatic dysfunction.


The one year survival rates in study 023 were 77% for the group receiving MYCOBUTIN and 77% for the placebo group. In study 027, the one year survival rates were 77% for the group receiving MYCOBUTIN and 70% for the placebo group. These differences were not statistically significant.


MYCOBUTIN Capsules are contraindicated in patients who have had clinically significant hypersensitivity to rifabutin or to any other rifamycins.

MYCOBUTIN Capsules must not be administered for MAC prophylaxis to patients with active tuberculosis. Tuberculosis in HIV-positive patients is common and may present with atypical or extrapulmonary findings. Patients are likely to have a nonreactive purified protein derivative (PPD) despite active disease. In addition to chest X-ray and sputum culture, the following studies may be useful in the diagnosis of tuberculosis in the HIV-positive patient: blood culture, urine culture, or biopsy of a suspicious lymph node.

Patients who develop complaints consistent with active tuberculosis while on prophylaxis with MYCOBUTIN should be evaluated immediately, so that those with active disease may be given an effective combination regimen of anti-tuberculosis medications. Administration of MYCOBUTIN as a single agent to patients with active tuberculosis is likely to lead to the development of tuberculosis that is resistant to MYCOBUTIN and to rifampin.

There is no evidence that MYCOBUTIN is effective prophylaxis against M. tuberculosis . Patients requiring prophylaxis against both M. tuberculosis and Mycobacterium avium complex may be given isoniazid and MYCOBUTIN concurrently.


Because treatment with MYCOBUTIN Capsules may be associated with neutropenia, and more rarely thrombocytopenia, physicians should consider obtaining hematologic studies periodically in patients receiving prophylaxis with MYCOBUTIN.

Information for Patients

Patients should be advised of the signs and symptoms of both MAC and tuberculosis, and should be instructed to consult their physicians if they develop new complaints consistent with either of these diseases. In addition, since MYCOBUTIN may rarely be associated with myositis and uveitis, patients should be advised to notify their physicians if they develop signs or symptoms suggesting either of these disorders.

Urine, feces, saliva, sputum, perspiration, tears, and skin may be colored brown-orange with rifabutin and some of its metabolites. Soft contact lenses may be permanently stained. Patients to be treated with MYCOBUTIN should be made aware of these possibilities.

Drug Interactions

In 10 healthy adult volunteers and 8 HIV-positive patients, steady-state plasma levels of zidovudine (ZDV), an antiretroviral agent which is metabolized mainly through glucuronidation, were decreased after repeated dosing with MYCOBUTIN; the mean decrease in C max and AUC was decreased by 48% and 32%, respectively. In vitro studies have demonstrated that rifabutin does not affect the inhibition of HIV by ZDV.

Steady-state kinetics in 12 HIV-positive patients show that both the rate and extent of systemic availability of didanosine (ddl), was not altered after repeated dosing of MYCOBUTIN.

Rifabutin has liver enzyme-inducing properties. The related drug rifampin is known to reduce the activity of a number of other drugs, including dapsone, narcotics (including methadone), anticoagulants, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, cardiac glycoside preparations, quinidine, oral contraceptives, oral hypoglycemic agents (sulfonylureas), and analgesics. Rifampin has also been reported to decrease the effects of concurrently administered ketoconazole, barbiturates, diazepam, verapamil, beta-adrenergic blockers, clofibrate, progestins, disopyramide, mexiletine, theophylline, chloramphenicol, and anticonvulsants. Because of the structural similarity of rifabutin and rifampin, MYCOBUTIN may be expected to have some effect on these drugs as well. However, unlike rifampin, MYCOBUTIN appears not to affect the acetylation of isoniazid. When rifabutin was compared with rifampin in a study with 8 healthy normal volunteers, rifabutin appeared to be a less potent enzyme inducer than rifampin. The significance of this finding for clinical drug interactions is not known. Dosage adjustment of drugs listed above may be necessary if they are given concurrently with MYCOBUTIN. Patients using oral contraceptives should consider changing to nonhormonal methods of birth control.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility:

Long term carcinogenicity studies were conducted with rifabutin in mice and in rats. Rifabutin was not carcinogenic in mice at doses up to 180 mg/kg/day, or approximately 36 times the recommended human daily dose. Rifabutin was not carcinogenic in the rat at doses up to 60 mg/kg/day, about 12 times the recommended human dose.

Rifabutin was not mutagenic in the bacterial mutation assay (Ames Test) using both rifabutin-susceptible and resistant strains. Rifabutin was not mutagenic in Schizosaccharomyces pombe P 1 and was not genotoxic in V-79 Chinese hamster cells, human lymphocytes in vitro, or mouse bone marrow cells in vivo.

Fertility was impaired in male rats given 160 mg/kg (32 times the recommended human daily dose).


Pregnancy Category B: Reproduction studies have been carried out in rats and rabbits given rifabutin using dose levels up to 200 mg/kg (40 times the recommended human daily dose). No teratogenicity was observed in either species. In rats, given 200 mg/kg/day, there was a decrease in fetal viability. In rats, at 40 mg/kg/day (8 times the recommended human daily dose), rifabutin caused an increase in fetal skeletal variants. In rabbits, at 80 mg/kg/day (16 times the recommended human daily dose), rifabutin caused maternotoxicity and increase in fetal skeletal anomalies. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, rifabutin should be used in pregnant women only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Nursing Mothers:

It is not known whether rifabutin is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

Pediatric Use:

Safety and effectiveness of rifabutin for prophylaxis of MAC in children have not been established. Limited safety data are available from treatment use in 22 HIV-positive children with MAC who received MYCOBUTIN in combination with at least two other antimycobacterials for periods from 1 to 183 weeks. Mean doses (mg/kg) for these children were: 18.5 (range 15.0 to 25.0) for infants one year of age; 8.6 (range 4.4 to 18.8) for children 2 to 10 years of age; and 4.0 (range 2.8 to 5.4) for adolescents 14 to 16 years of age. There is no evidence that doses greater than 5 mg/kg daily are useful. Adverse experiences were similar to those observed in the adult population, and included leukopenia, neutropenia and rash. Doses of MYCOBUTIN may be administered mixed with foods such as applesauce.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of MYCOBUTIN did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy (see ).


MYCOBUTIN Capsules were generally well tolerated in the controlled clinical trials. Discontinuation of therapy due to an adverse event was required in 16% of patients receiving MYCOBUTIN compared to 8% of patients receiving placebo in these trials. Primary reasons for discontinuation of MYCOBUTIN were rash (4% of treated patients), gastrointestinal intolerance (3%), and neutropenia (2%).

The following table enumerates adverse experiences that occurred at a frequency of 1% or greater, among the patients treated with MYCOBUTIN in studies 023 and 027.

(n=566) %
(n=580) %
 Abdominal Pain
4 3
1 1
 Chest Pain
1 1
2 1
3 5
1 2
2 2
3 3
3 1
3 1
2 1
6 5
 Nausea and Vomiting
3 2
1 1
2 1
1 1
11 8
 Taste Perversion
3 1
 Discolored Urine
30 6


Considering data from the 023 and 027 pivotal trials, and from other clinical studies, MYCOBUTIN appears to be a likely cause of the following adverse events which occurred in less than 1% of treated patients: flu-like syndrome, hepatitis, hemolysis, arthralgia, myositis, chest pressure or pain with dyspnea, and skin discoloration.

The following adverse events have occurred in more than one patient receiving MYCOBUTIN, but an etiologic role has not been established: seizure, paresthesia, aphasia, confusion, and non-specific T wave changes on electrocardiogram.

When MYCOBUTIN was administered at doses from 1050 mg/day to 2400 mg/day, generalized arthralgia and uveitis were reported. These adverse experiences abated when MYCOBUTIN was discontinued.

The following table enumerates the changes in laboratory values that were considered as laboratory abnormalities in studies 023 and 027.

(n = 566) %
(n = 580) %
 Increased Alkaline Phosphatase 1
<1  3
 Increased SGOT 2
 7 12
 Increased SGPT 2
 9 11
 Anemia 3
 6  7
 1  1
 Leukopenia 4
17 16
 Neutropenia 5
25 20
 Thrombocytopenia 6
 5  4
1 all values >450 U/L
2 all values >150 U/L
3 all hemoglobin values < 8.0 g/dL
4 all WBC values < 1,500/mm 3
5 all ANC values < 750/mm 3
6 all platelet count values < 50,000/mm 3

The incidence of neutropenia in patients treated with MYCOBUTIN was significantly greater than in patients treated with placebo (p = 0.03). Although thrombocytopenia was not significantly more common among patients treated with MYCOBUTIN in these trials, MYCOBUTIN has been clearly linked to thrombocytopenia in rare cases. One patient in study 023 developed thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which was attributed to MYCOBUTIN.

Uveitis is rare when MYCOBUTIN is used as a single agent at 300 mg/day for prophylaxis of MAC in HIV-infected persons, even with the concomitant use of fluconazole and/or macrolide antibiotics. However, if higher doses of MYCOBUTIN are administered in combination with these agents, the incidence of uveitis is higher.

Patients who developed uveitis had mild to severe symptoms that resolved after treatment with corticosteroids and/or mydriatic eye drops; in some severe cases, however, resolution of symptoms occurred after several weeks.

When uveitis occurs, temporary discontinuance of MYCOBUTIN and ophthalmic evaluation are recommended. In most mild cases, MYCOBUTIN may be restarted; however, if signs or symptoms recur, use of MYCOBUTIN should be discontinued (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, September 4, 1994).


Liver abnormalities (increased bilirubin and liver weight), occurred in all species tested, in rats at doses 5 times, in monkeys at doses 8 times, and in mice at doses 6 times the recommended human daily dose. Testicular atrophy occurred in baboons at doses 4 times the recommended human dose, and in rats at doses 40 times the recommended human daily dose.


No information is available on accidental overdosage in humans.


While there is no experience in the treatment of overdose with MYCOBUTIN Capsules, clinical experience with rifamycins suggest that gastric lavage to evacuate gastric contents (within a few hours of overdose), followed by instillation of an activated charcoal slurry into the stomach, may help absorb any remaining drug from the gastrointestinal tract.

Rifabutin is 85% protein bound and distributed extensively into tissues (Vss:8 to 9 L/kg). It is not primarily excreted via the urinary route (less than 10% as unchanged drug), therefore, neither hemodialysis nor forced diuresis is expected to enhance the systemic elimination of unchanged rifabutin from the body in a patient with an overdose of MYCOBUTIN.


It is recommended that MYCOBUTIN Capsules be administered at a dose of 300 mg once daily. For those patients with propensity to nausea, vomiting, or other gastrointestinal upset, administration of MYCOBUTIN at doses of 150 mg twice daily taken with food may be useful.


MYCOBUTIN Capsules (rifabutin capsules, USP) are supplied as hard gelatin capsules having an opaque red-brown cap and body, imprinted with MYCOBUTIN/PHARMACIA & UPJOHN in white ink, each containing 150 mg of rifabutin, USP.

MYCOBUTIN is available as follows:

NDC 0013-5301-17    Bottles of 100 capsules

Keep tightly closed and dispense in a tight container as defined in the USP. Store at 25°C (77°F); excursions permitted to 15°-30°C (59°-86°F) [see USP Controlled Room Temperature].

Rx only

Manufactured for:      Pharmacia & Upjohn Company
                                 Kalamazoo, MI 49001, USA
                      By:      Pharmacia & Upjohn S.p.A.
                                 Ascoli Piceno, Italy

Revised August 1999      10000035101



NOTE: These photos can be used only for identification by shape, color, and imprint. They do not depict actual or relative size.

The product samples shown here have been supplied by the manufacturer and reproduced in full color by PDR as a quick-reference identification aid. While every effort has been made to assure accurate reproduction, please remember that any visual identification should be considered preliminary. In cases of poisoning or suspected overdosage, the drug' identity should be verified by chemical analysis.