According to Doctors with Borders, the world will use up the rest of the limited supply of the most effective anti-venom treatments for snakebites by next year. This puts tens of thousands of people in a tough spot, especially in developing countries.
In a statement issued on Monday, the medical charity warned that the stocks of the antidote Fav-Afrique will expire as early as June. Produced by Sanofi Pasteur, the company has since switched their focus on developing rabies treatments instead.
Sanofi Pasteur announced in 2010 it would stop producing the anti-venom, as cheaper alternatives proved to be stiff marketplace competition. While the other products are less costly, they’re far less effective. The company has offered their anti-venom technology to others, however.
“It’s very strange that the relevant stakeholders are only realizing this problem five years later,” said Alain Bernal, a Sanofi Pasteur spokesman.
It’s estimated about 5 million people are bitten by snakes every year, including 100,000 deaths, and even more who’ll need amputations as a result from certain venoms and snakes. The anit-venom costs $250-$500, though the drugs are bought and supplied by donors and aid groups in developing countries.