The Amount of Penicillin Needed to Prevent Mother-to-child Transmission of Syphilis
(2016; 2 pages)


An estimated 5.6 million doses of 2.4 million units of benzathine penicillin are needed annually to treat all syphilis cases.5 Of these, 930 000 doses are needed to treat pregnant women with syphilis early in pregnancy to prevent all cases of congenital syphilis.

In May 2016, benzathine penicillin was recognized by the 69th World Health Assembly as an essential medicine that has been in short supply for several years. These shortages have affected treatment and prevention of congenital syphilis. A lack of benzathine penicillin can result in pregnant women with syphilis receiving ineffective or no treatment. Benzathine penicillin is a generic injectable with very few global manufacturers and is therefore at high risk for inventory stock out and shortages at the point-of-care.

The WHO Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal was designed and is maintained by Human Info NGO. Last updated: December 1, 2019