Clinical outcomes of concomitant rifamycin and opioid therapy: A systematic review

Eric M. Kinney, West Virginia University Medicine, J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.
Sandhya Vijapurapu, Duquesne University School of Pharmacy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Jordan R. Covvey, Duquesne University School of Pharmacy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.
Branden D. Nemecek, Duquesne University School of Pharmacy, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Opioids are one of the most prescribed classes of analgesic medications. Their narrow therapeutic index and metabolism through cytochrome p450 (CYP) enzymes can result in a drug interaction when used concomitantly with rifamycins. In clinical scenarios where concurrent therapy with an opioid and a rifamycin occurs, there is no standardized guidance for managing the interaction. The objective of this review was to examine literature which evaluates the concomitant use of opioids and rifamycins with clinically relevant CYP-inducing properties. A systematic review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) criteria was performed. PubMed, Scopus, and OVID Embase were queried for studies from database inception to January 2020 related to rifamycin and opioid medications. Only full-text, peer-reviewed, English language articles addressing clinical outcomes from concomitant rifamycin and opioid therapy were included. The review isolated 12 articles for data extraction from an original 2260 citations identified. Rifampin (11; 92%) and rifabutin (2; 17%) were the rifamycins studied along with seven different opioids. Decreased effect of opioids with concomitant rifampin therapy manifested as withdrawal in numerous patients on methadone and a decreased analgesic effect from tramadol, morphine, and, most notably, oxycodone. Only the combinations of rifampin with buccal fentanyl and rifabutin with buprenorphine and methadone were found to have no clinically measurable interaction. Available literature suggests that a decrease in opioid clinical effects is appreciated with concomitant rifamycin therapy. Further research is needed to focus on specific mitigation strategies beyond opioid agent selection, such as dosing adjustment recommendations.