By Conor Gaffey
A member of staff demonstrates to tourists how to extract venom from a King Cobra snake at the snake farm in Thailand’s Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute in Bangkok January 28, 2010. According to MSF, stocks of a vital antivenom are due to run out in June 2016, endangering tens of thousands of lives particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
Tens of thousands of lives could be put at risk from snakebites unless immediate action is taken to replenish dwindling antivenom stocks, according to a leading medical charity.
Global stockpiles of Fav-Afrique, the only antivenom which has been proven both safe and effective in treating a variety of bites from snakes native to Sub-Saharan Africa are due to expire in June 2016, according to international aid agency, Medecins Sans Frontieres
(MSF). Sanofi Pasteur, the French pharmaceutical company that manufactured the drug, stopped production in 2014 and there will now be a two-year gap before a replacement product becomes available in 2018.
MSF estimates that five million people worldwide suffer snakebites each year, with 100,000 dying from their injuries and 400,000 suffering permanent disability or disfigurement as a result. The problem is most acute in south and southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where farming activities expose people to snakes and a scarcity of antivenom leads to higher mortality rates, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Read more.