Snakebite Anti-Venom Is Ending, Putting Thousands Of Lives At Risk

Posted: Sep 8 2015, 5:45pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Snakebite Anti-Venom Is Ending, Putting Thousands of Lives at Risk
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Snakebites kill more than 100,000 people every year. Doctors Without Borders wants relevant authorities to take immediate action before anti-venom runs out worldwide.

One of the most effective treatments for snakebites is running out, which means thousands of lives are at risk especially in developing countries.

The stocks of Fav-Afrique will end by June 2016 and manufacturers already stopped making the drug back in 2014.

Fav-Afrique is the only safe, less costly and effective anti-venom which is used to treat bites from 10 different types of snakes across Africa and there is no comparable replacement available right now.

Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF), an international humanitarian organization, has recently highlighted the issue and calling relevant authorities to take proper action before the situation gets worse. 

“We’re now facing a real crises, so why do government, pharmaceutical companies and global health bodies walk away when we need them most” said Gabriel Alcoba, a medical advisor at MSF.

“Imagine how frightening it must be to be bitten by a snake – to feel the pain and venom spread though your body – knowing it may kill you and there is no treatment available and that you can’t afford to pay for it.”

French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur had stopped producing anti-venom last year, claiming they are priced out by the competitors and have switched to making rabies treatment instead. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers snakebites a neglected disease which is primarily a problem of poor rural populations in Africa, Asia, Oceana and Latin America. Every year, an estimated 5 million people are bitten by snakes worldwide, out of which 100,000 die and 400,000 are permanently disabled or disfigured. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, 30,000 people die of snakebites every year. The unavailability of the drug will cause more deaths and disability. Doctors Without Borders or MSF is demanding Sanofi to continue manufacturing drug until an effective replacement is available in the market.

“Until a replacement product to Fav-Afrique is available, we hope that Sanofi can start to generate the base material needed to produce Fav-Afrique and then find suitable opportunities within their production capacity to refine it into anti venom.” Julien Potet, neglected disease advisor at MSF said in a statement.

Sanofi is reportedly negotiating with another company for manufacturing anti-venom but it will take considerable time before these negotiations materialized.

“The global health community, donors, governments and pharmaceutical companies should accept responsibility for their share of the neglect of snakebite as a public health emergency and take immediate, appropriate and collaborative action.” MSF said.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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