Pentamidine dosage: a base/salt confusion

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2008 May 28;2(5):e225. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000225.


Pentamidine has a long history in the treatment of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) and leishmaniasis. Early guidelines on the dosage of pentamidine were based on the base-moiety of the two different formulations available. Confusion on the dosage of pentamidine arose from a different labelling of the two available products, either based on the salt or base moiety available in the preparation. We provide an overview of the various guidelines concerning HAT and leishmaniasis over the past decades and show the confusion in the calculation of the dosage of pentamidine in these guidelines and the subsequent published reports on clinical trials and reviews. At present, only pentamidine isethionate is available, but the advised dosage for HAT and leishmaniasis is (historically) based on the amount of pentamidine base. In the treatment of leishmaniasis this is probably resulting in a subtherapeutic treatment. There is thus a need for a new, more transparent and concise guideline concerning the dosage of pentamidine, at least in the treatment of HAT and leishmaniasis.

MeSH terms

  • Antiprotozoal Agents* / chemistry
  • Antiprotozoal Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis / drug therapy*
  • Pentamidine / administration & dosage
  • Pentamidine / chemistry*
  • Pentamidine / therapeutic use*
  • Trypanocidal Agents* / chemistry
  • Trypanocidal Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Trypanosomiasis, African / drug therapy*


  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Trypanocidal Agents
  • Pentamidine