World’s supply of snakebite anti-venom is running out

World’s supply of snakebite anti-venom is running out

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.

“We are now facing a real crisis,” Dr. Gabriel Alcoba, the charity’s snakebite adviser, said in a statement. He went on to say there’d be no alternative for at least another couple of years.

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.

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