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Mycobutin (Rifabutin)

What Mycobutin is and what it is used for

Mycobutin is an antibiotic. It is used to treat infections caused by germs (bacteria) called mycobacteria. These are bacteria which cannot be destroyed with usual antibiotics.

One of the most common mycobacterial infections is Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Mycobutin can be used in combination with other antibiotics for the treatment of tuberculosis of the lung.

Mycobutin can also be used to treat other mycobacterial infections such as Mycobacterium avium intracellulare (MAI, also known as MAC) or Mycobacterium xenopi.

People who are unable to fight infection (such as those with HIV) are more likely to be infected with mycobacteria; especially MAC. Mycobutin can be given (on its own) to people with HIV disease when the number of CD4 cells (part of the immune system) falls below 75 per microlitre of blood. This will help to stop them from developing MAC infections.

You should consult your doctor if you are unsure why you have been given Mycobutin.

Before you take Mycobutin

Do not take Mycobutin if:

  • you are allergic (hypersensitive) to rifabutin or other drugs to treat tuberculosis or any of the other ingredients of Mycobutin listed in section 6;
  • you are pregnant or breast feeding;
  • the medicine has been prescribed for a child under 12 years.

Take special care with Mycobutin

Medicines are not always suitable for everyone. Your doctor needs to know before you take Mycobutin if you suffer from or have suffered in the past from problems with your liver or kidneys.

It is common for Mycobutin to colour your urine (water) red/orange, you may also experience colouring of the skin and other body fluids. These are nothing to worry about. It can also colour soft contact lenses.

Your doctor will carry out tests to check that you do not have active tuberculosis or another mycobacterial disease. You may also have regular eye examinations if you are taking Mycobutin with other medicines to treat an infection.

You may need to take Mycobutin for the rest of your life, to prevent you from getting MAC infection.

Taking other medicines

Some medicines can affect the way Mycobutin works, or Mycobutin itself can reduce the effectiveness of other medicines taken at the same time. You should therefore inform your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:

  • medicines to treat diabetes;
  • painkillers (especially aspirin);
  • anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin;
  • corticosteroids (to treat inflammation or allergy) such as prednisolone;
  • ciclosporin or tacrolimus (to suppress the immune system);
  • quinidine or digitalis (but not digoxin) (for heart conditions);
  • dapsone (to treat skin infections or pneumonia);
  • phenytoin (to treat epilepsy);
  • anti-fungals (especially fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole or miconazole);
  • anti-virals (especially indinavir, saquinavir or ritonavir);
  • clarithromycin (an antibiotic).

When taking Mycobutin, oral contraceptives (the pill) may not prevent pregnancy. You are advised to use other forms of birth control.

Please tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or have recently taken any other medicines, including medicines obtained without a prescription.

Taking Mycobutin with food and drink

Mycobutin can be taken before or after food and drinks.

Pregnancy and Breast-feeding

You should not take Mycobutin if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking any medicine.

Driving and using machines

Mycobutin is not expected to affect your ability to drive or use any tools or machinery.

How to take Mycobutin

The capsules should be taken by mouth, once a day.

Mycobutin is usually given in combination with other antibiotics for treating mycobacterial infections.

The number of capsules depends upon the condition you are being treated for.

The usual doses are:


1 to 3 capsules once a day

Treatment of other mycobacterial infections:

3 to 4 capsules once a day, though your doctor may prescribe a lower dose if you are taking certain other drugs

When used to prevent MAI/MAC Infection:

2 capsules once a day

If you are taking Mycobutin to treat an infection you may not feel better for 2 to 3 weeks. You should continue taking your capsules unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

If you take more Mycobutin than you should

If you accidentally take too much Mycobutin contact your doctor at once or go to the nearest hospital casualty department. Always take the labelled medicine package with you, whether there are any Mycobutin capsules left or not.

If you forget to take Mycobutin

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is time for your next dose. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.

If you stop taking Mycobutin

Do not stop taking Mycobutin unless your doctor tells you to as your infection could return. If you have any further questions on how to take Mycobutin, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines Mycobutin can have some side-effects, although not everybody gets them.

Tell your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking this medicine. Although they are very rare, these symptoms can be serious:

Sudden wheeziness, difficulty in breathing, pain in the chest, swelling of eyelids, face or lips, rash or itching (especially affecting the whole body).

The most common side effects when you take Mycobutin are:

  • nausea (feeling sick), vomiting and diarrhoea
  • a yellow colouring of the eyes or skin (jaundice)
  • pain or redness in the eye, cloudiness or loss of vision
  • flu-like symptoms and/or aching joints or muscles
  • fever/high temperature

If any of the side effects get serious, or if you notice any side effects not listed in this leaflet, please tell your doctor or pharmacist.

Your doctor will take regular blood tests while you are on Mycobutin to measure the level of white and red blood cells, platelets (which help the blood clot) and substances produced by the liver known as enzymes. This will make sure your blood and liver are working properly.

How to store Mycobutin

Keep out of the reach and sight of children.

Do not store above 25 C.

Do not use Mycobutin after the expiry date which is stamped on the pack. The expiry date refers to the last day of that month.

Medicines should not be disposed of via wastewater or household waste. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medicines no longer required. These measures will help to protect the environment.

Further Information

What Mycobutin contains

Each Mycobutin capsule contains 150mg of the active ingredient rifabutin.

The other ingredients are microcrystalline cellulose, sodium lauryl sulphate, magnesium stearate, gelatin and silica gel.

What Mycobutin looks like and contents of the pack

Mycobutin capsules are opaque, red-brown hard gelatin capsules presented in blister packs of 30 capsules.

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