LIFESTYLE
08/09/2015 11:51 BST | Updated 08/09/2015 11:59 BST

Snakebite Antidote Due To Run Out Next Year, Experts Are Worried 'People Will Die Unnecessarily'

A snakebite antidote which has saved countless lives could run out by 2016.

The specialist serum Fav-Afrique, which can neutralise bites from 10 different snakes found in Sub-Saharan Africa, has stopped being produced after the manufacturer was priced out of the market, the BBC reports.

According to the World Health Organisation, roughly 421,000 bites and 20,000 deaths occur worldwide from snakes each year.

There are now concerns that when the antidote runs out, many people will die.

snake bite

Polly Markandya from Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which stocks the antidote Fav-Afrique, told BBC News: "We are worried that without that anti-venom available, people will die unnecessarily."

According to MSF, the last batch of Fav-Afrique is due to expire in less than a year, by June 2016.

Antidote manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur has reportedly been priced out of the market, which is why they've stopped production. They are, however, willing to give the recipe to other manufacturers.

But regardless of whether another manufacturer takes on the product, they are still unlikely to have a replacement antidote ready by next year.

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MSF is now concerned that this will result in countless lives being lost. As, while there are alternatives to Fav-Afrique available, they've been found to be less effective.

Markandya said the serum is sought after because of the fact it can neutralise bites from different breeds of snake.

"Having an anti-venom that works against a variety of different species is really important," she added.

Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest records of snakebites.

The main culprits are elapids - snakes such as cobras, kraits and mambas - as well as vipers and, in some regions, sea snakes.

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[H/T BBC]