Doctors Without Borders has issued an alarming announcement – health experts are running out of snakebite anti venom treatments. The last remaining doses of Fav-Afrique will be gone sometime next year and tens of thousands will be put in danger because of it. Developing countries are expected to suffer the most.
Fav-Afrique is currently one of the most effective snakebite anti venom treatments available on the market. It’s produced by Sanofi Pasteur, a French pharmaceutical company that has decided to discontinue the treatment simply because they’re not making enough of a profit. Production stopped last year, when Sanofi Pasteur started focusing on MCHmaking, a rabies treatment.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) informed that the remaining doses of Fav-Afrique will expire in June 2016.
Abdulrazaq Habib, professor of tropical and infectious diseases from Nigeria’s Bayero University, gave a statement explaining that “Fav-Afrique is no longer being manufactured so vulnerable farmers will lose their lives or limbs”.
Dr Gabriel Alcoba, snakebite adviser for Doctors Without Borders, agreed with Habib. He gave a statement saying that “We are now facing a real crisis”.
The aid group informed that the problem is not just that Sanofi Pasteur discontinued their effective snakebite anti venom treatment, but that doctors have no alternative to replace it with, and that they’re not likely to have one for two (2) years, at minimum.
Doctors Without Borders stressed in their press release that “In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 30.000 people die from snakebite every year”. And that’s not all. Field experts estimate that an additional 8.000 undergo amputations. “The number of victims is likely to rise as existing stockpiles of one of the most effective antivenoms for sub-Saharan Africa are due to expire in June 2016”.
Alain Bernal, a spokesperson from Sanofi Pasteur defended the pharmaceutical company’s decision, saying that it was pushed out of the market because its competitors are selling cheaper products. The spokesperson also added that the company doesn’t feel any guilt as the announcement that they’ll stop producing Fav-Afrique was made back in 2010.
Even though the cheaper snakebite anti venom treatments are labeled less effective by health professionals, Sanofi Pasteur has made it clear that they’re preventing the company from making enough of a profit.
Bernal was even surprised that relevant stakeholders are realizing the problem just now, five (5) years after the pharmaceutical company’s announcement. He called these circumstances “strange” and explained that Sanofi Pasteur offered to transfer their anti venom technology to other companies.
Fav-Afrique is available for anywhere between $250 to $500, and Doctors Without Borders asked international companies to make sure that doctors can get access to the snakebite anti venom treatments when they need to. They are hoping that the World Health Organization (WHO) will take the request to heart and try to solve this problem.
Gregory Hartl, a spokesperson from the World Health Organization, gave a statement saying that the organization is actively working on the current snakebite problem, however, most of their donors have not been interested.
Image Source: pixabay.com