The rifamycins are antibiotics derived from Streptomyces mediterranei.1 Their chemical structure is novel, with a long aliphatic bridge spanning an aromatic system. They act by inhibiting bacterial RNA polymerase, as do the actinomycins. Of the five compounds originally isolated, only rifamycin B was obtained in stable crystalline form, and three substances derived from this have come into clinical use: rifamycin SV, 2 rifampicin,3 and rifamycin B-diethylamide or rifamide (Rifocin-M - Lepetit).4
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