Novel dosing strategies increase exposures of the potent antituberculosis drug rifapentine but are poorly tolerated in healthy volunteers

Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2015;59(6):3399-405. doi: 10.1128/AAC.05128-14. Epub 2015 Mar 30.


Rifapentine is a potent antituberculosis drug currently in phase III trials. Bioavailability decreases with increasing dose, yet high daily exposures are likely needed to improve efficacy and shorten the tuberculosis treatment duration. Further, the limits of tolerability are poorly defined. The phase I multicenter trial in healthy adults described here investigated two strategies to increase rifapentine exposures: dividing the dose or giving the drug with a high-fat meal. In arm 1, rifapentine was administered at 10 mg/kg of body weight twice daily and 20 mg/kg once daily, each for 14 days, separated by a 28-day washout; the dosing sequence was randomized. In arm 2, 15 mg/kg rifapentine once daily was given with a high-fat versus a low-fat breakfast. Sampling for pharmacokinetic analysis was performed on days 1 and 14. Population pharmacokinetic analyses were performed. This trial was stopped early for poor tolerability and because of safety concerns. Of 44 subjects, 20 discontinued prematurely; 11 of these discontinued for protocol-defined toxicity (a grade 3 or higher adverse event or grade 2 or higher rifamycin hypersensitivity). Taking rifapentine with a high-fat meal increased the median steady-state area under the concentration-time curve from time zero to 24 h (AUC0-24ss) by 31% (relative standard error, 6%) compared to that obtained when the drug was taken with a low-fat breakfast. Dividing the dose increased exposures substantially (e.g., 38% with 1,500 mg/day). AUC0-24ss was uniformly higher in our study than in recent tuberculosis treatment trials, in which toxicity was rare. In conclusion, two strategies to increase rifapentine exposures, dividing the dose or giving it with a high-fat breakfast, successfully increased exposures, but toxicity was common in healthy adults. The limits of tolerability in patients with tuberculosis remain to be defined. (AIDS Clinical Trials Group study A5311 has been registered at under registration no. NCT01574638.).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antitubercular Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antitubercular Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antitubercular Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rifampin / administration & dosage
  • Rifampin / adverse effects
  • Rifampin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Rifampin / pharmacokinetics
  • Young Adult


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Rifampin
  • rifapentine

Associated data