Drug Safety

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 111–113 | Cite as

Clinically Significant Interactions with Drugs Used in the Treatment of Tuberculosis

Review Article


Clinically significant interactions occurring during antituberculous chemotherapy principally involve rifampicin (rifampin), isoniazid and the fluoroquinolones. Such interactions between the antituberculous drugs and coadministered agents are definitely much more important than among antituberculous drugs themselves. These can be associated with consequences even amounting to therapeutic failure or toxicity. Most of the interactions are pharmacokinetic rather than pharmacodynamic in nature. The cytochrome P450 isoform enzymes are responsible for many interactions (especially those involving rifampicin and isoniazid) during drug biotransformation (metabolism) in the liver and/or intestine. Generally, rifampicin is an enzyme inducer and isoniazid acts as an inhibitor. The agents interacting significantly with rifampicin include anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, anti-infectives, cardiovascular therapeutics, contraceptives, glucocorticoids, immunosuppressants, psychotropics, sulphonylureas and theophyllines. Isoniazid interacts principally with anticonvulsants, theophylline, benzodiapines, paracetamol (acetaminophen) and some food. Fluoroquinolones can have absorption disturbance due to a variety of agents, especially the metal cations. Other important interactions of fluoroquinolones result from their enzyme inhibiting potential or pharmacodynamic mechanisms. Geriatric and immunocompromised patients are particularly at risk of drug interactions during treatment of their tuberculosis. Among the latter, patients who are HIV infected constitute the most important group. This is largely because of the advent of new antiretroviral agents such as the HIV protease inhibitors and the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors in the armamenterium of therapy. Compounding the complexity of drug interactions, underlying medical diseases per se may also contribute to or aggravate the scenario. It is imperative for clinicians to be on the alert when treating tuberculosis in patients with difficult co-morbidity requiring polypharmacy. With advancement of knowledge and expertise, it is hoped that therapeutic drug monitoring as a new paradigm of care can enable better management of these drug interactions.


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© Adis International Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tuberculosis & Chest UnitGrantham HospitalAberdeenChina

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