Snakebite anti-venom ‘will run out next year’

Doctors Without Borders says the world will run out of one of the most effective treatments for snakebites next year, risking the lives of tens of thousands of people, mostly in developing countries.

In a statement, the medical charity warned that existing stockpiles of the anti-venom Fav-Afrique produced by Sanofi Pasteur will expire in June. The company stopped producing the anti-venom last year and has since switched to making a rabies treatment at its facilities instead.

“We are now facing a real crisis,” Dr. Gabriel Alcoba, the charity’s snakebite adviser, said in a statement.

The aid group, also known by its French acronym MSF, said there would likely be no alternative available to replace the Sanofi Pasteur snakebite treatment for at least two years.

A spokesman for the company said “It’s very strange that (health officials) are only realising this problem five years later,” He said the company has offered to transfer the anti-venom technology to others but “nothing has materialized yet.”

About 5 million people are bitten by snakes every year, including 100,000 deaths and several hundred thousand others suffer amputations or other disabilities. When it’s available, the anti-venom treatment costs $250 to $500.


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