Access to diphtheria antitoxin for therapy and diagnostics

L. Both*, Joanne White, Sema Mandal, A. Efstratiou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The most effective treatment for diphtheria is swift administration of diphtheria antitoxin (DAT) with conjunct antibiotic therapy. DAT is an equine immunoglobulin preparation and listed among the World Health Organization Essential Medicines. Essential Medicines should be available in functioning health systems at all times in adequate amounts, in appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality, and at prices individuals and the community can afford. However, DAT is in scarce supply and frequently unavailable to patients because of discontinued production in several countries, low economic viability, and high regulatory requirements for the safe manufacture of blood-derived products. DAT is also a cornerstone of diphtheria diagnostics but several diagnostic reference laboratories across the European Union (EU) and elsewhere routinely face problems in sourcing DAT for toxigenicity testing. Overall, global access to DAT for both therapeutic and diagnostic applications seems inadequate. Therefore - besides efforts to improve the current supply of DAT - accelerated research and development of alternatives including monoclonal antibodies for therapy and molecular-based methods for diagnostics are required. Given the rarity of the disease, it would be useful to organise a small stockpile centrally for all EU countries and to maintain an inventory of DAT availability within and between countries.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2014


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