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This study was aimed at assessing the efficacy and tolerability of rifabutin for the re-treatment of cases of chronic, multidrug-resistant pulmonary tuberculosis. The study design was self-controlled, single center. Rifabutin was administered as part of an individual-tailored multidrug regimen. In-patients suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli resistant to isoniazid, rifampicin and other drugs with progressive disease unresponsive to prior courses with standard anti-tuberculosis medications were treated. Overall, 43 patients were enrolled and treated with rifabutin at 300 or 450mg/day according to body weight in conjunction with available anti-tuberculous drugs for a mean time of 353 days (range 42-678). Of these, 36 met all eligibility criteria (i.e. positive baseline culture of sputum with bacilli resistant to rifampicin at least) and were retained for the analysis of efficacy. Seventeen patients (47%) achieved a sustained conversion to a negative culture of sputum in a mean time of 47.7 days with a range of 14-120 days. Treatment prevented deterioration in most patients and resulted in clinical and radiological cure or marked improvement in more than half of cases. No correlation was found between treatment outcome and use of medication concomitant to rifabutin or susceptibility of bacilli to the drugs used. Four deaths occurred due to disease progression, in no case being related to study drugs. Ten patients reported a total of 18 adverse events that led to treatment discontinuation in 5 cases. Rifabutin should be considered for inclusion in regimens for cases of pulmonary multidrug-resistant tuberculosis which fail to respond to previous therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of chemotherapy (Florence, Italy)

Publication Date





137 - 143


Taiwan Provincial Chronic Disease Control Bureau, Taipei.


Humans, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Tuberculosis, Multidrug-Resistant, Tuberculosis, Pulmonary, Chronic Disease, Rifabutin, Antibiotics, Antitubercular, Treatment Outcome, Salvage Therapy, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Middle Aged, Taiwan, Female, Male