Description: Ethambutol appears to stop substances of the bacteria needed in order to multiply. It is active against susceptible bacteria only when they are undergoing cell division.
Absorption: 80% is absorbed from the GI tract. Time to peak plasma concentration: W/in 4 hr.
Distribution: Distributed in most tissues, including lungs, kidneys, erythrocytes. Approx 10-50% may diffuse into CSF when meninges are inflamed. Crosses the placenta and enters breast milk.
Metabolism: Undergoes partial hepatic metabolism;, converted to the aldehyde and dicarboxylic acid derivatives (inactive).
Excretion: Via urine (as unchanged drug, 8-15% as metabolites) and faeces (20% as unchanged drug). Elimination half-life: Approx 3-4 hr.

Ethambutol, an anitbiotic, treats tuberculosis (TB) by stopping the growth of bacteria. It will not work for viral infections (such as common cold, flu). This drug may also be used with other medications to help treat and prevent Mycobacterium avium complex-MAC infection in people with advanced HIV disease.

How to use ethambutol

Take this medication by mouth with or without food, usually once daily or as directed by your doctor. This medication may sometimes be taken twice weekly. Take this medication exactly as directed by your doctor.

If you also take antacids that contain aluminum, take this medication at least 4 hours before the antacid.

The dosage is based on your age, weight, medical condition, and response to treatment.

Antibiotics work best when the amount of medicine in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day.

Continue to take this medication (and other TB medications) until the full prescribed amount is finished, even if symptoms disappear. Stopping the medication too early or skipping doses may allow the bacteria to continue to grow, which may result in a return of the infection and cause the infection to be more difficult to treat (resistant).

Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.

Not available.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly if any of these effects persist or worsen:

  • Headache
  • loss of appetite
  • upset stomach
  • nausea/vomiting

Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur:

  • vision changes (such as blurred/decreased vision, color blindness)
  • symptoms of liver disease (such as persistent nausea/vomiting, unusual tiredness/weakness, severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine)
  • numbness/tingling of arms/legs
  • toe/joint pain
  • mental/mood disorders (such as confusion, hallucinations)
  • signs of a new infection (such as fever, persistent sore throat)
  • easy bleeding/bruising

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.


  • Allergic reaction to this medication.
  • Patients with medical history of:
    • eye problems (such as optic neuritis, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy)
    • liver disease
    • kidney disease
    • alcohol use
  • Tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) before having surgery.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages while using this medication.
  • Used only when clearly needed during pregnancy.
  • Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Consult your doctor regarding the precautions mentioned above.


The effects of some drugs can change if you take other drugs or herbal products at the same time. This can increase your risk for serious side effects or may cause your medications not to work correctly. These drug interactions are possible, but do not always occur. Your doctor or pharmacist can often prevent or manage interactions by changing how you use your medications or by close monitoring.

Keep a list of all the products you use. Share the list with your doctor and pharmacist to reduce your risk for serious medication problems.


If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately.


Do not share this medication with others.

Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as sputum test, eye/vision exams, kidney/liver function, complete blood count) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.

Missed Dose

For the best possible benefit, it is important to take each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.


Store at room temperature between 68-77 degrees F (20-25 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.

Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.


Also marketed as

  • Danbutol [ Danlex ]
  • Doctor’s Ethambutol [ Doctors ]
  • E-tol [ Sel-J Pharma ]
  • Holtresis [ Pasteur Pharma ]
  • Odetol [ Medichem ]
  • Pharex Ethambutol [ PPC ]
  • Triambutol [ Doctors ]

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