Diphtheria Antitoxin

For health professionals

The Food and Drug Administration has not licensed diphtheria antitoxin (DAT) for use in the United States. However, CDC is authorized to distribute DAT to treating clinicians as an investigational new drug (IND).

Download resources on assessing patients for diphtheria from the clinician page.

Who should receive DAT

Patients who have suspect or confirmed respiratory diphtheria, according to the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists case definition, are eligible to receive DAT. DAT may also be used in cases of respiratory diphtheria-like illness caused by laboratory-confirmed toxigenic C. ulcerans. A patient’s eligibility for treatment will be determined through discussion between the CDC diphtheria duty officer and the treating clinician.


For more detailed information about case definitions and DAT use, see IND Protocol #4167, Use of DAT for Suspected Diphtheria Cases [18 pages].

Requesting DAT

U.S. clinicians caring for a patient with possible respiratory diphtheria can obtain DAT by contacting the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center at 770-488-7100 after consulting with their state health department. DAT is available from CDC under an IND protocol. A CDC diphtheria duty officer will discuss the protocol for DAT release with the treating clinician. If the clinician decides DAT is indicated, it will be dispatched from one of the U.S. Quarantine Stations. The clinician makes the final decision on its use, may revise the diagnosis, and decide against administering DAT after it is released.

How to return unused DAT

If the clinician revises the patient’s diagnosis after the release of DAT and the antitoxin is not given, then it should be returned in a cold pack by overnight mail to:

CDC Drug Service (Mailstop H23-6)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta Georgia 30329
Phone: (404) 639-3670