August 4, 2011

FDA Approves First Scorpion Antivenom Drug

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first-ever drug as scorpion-sting antivenom.

Anascorp, an antivenom produced in Mexico, was tested in U.S. clinical trials.

This is the first time a drug that was fully developing in Latin American that has been approved by the FDA.

"This is an historic event," Dr. Leslie Boyer, director of the University of Arizona's VIPER Institute (Venom Immunochemistry, Pharmacology and Emergency Response Institute) and lead investigator on the clinical trials, said in a press release.

About 8,000 people are stung by scorpions every year in Arizona.  Many of those victims include children, who can suffer breathing difficulties when stung.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed the antivenom alleviated the symptoms of nerve poisoning in children following a scorpion sting in a very short time. 

The study also found that it reduced the need for sedative medication dramatically and lowered levels of scorpion venom in the bloodstream.

Dr. Alejandro Alag³n, an antivenom researcher from the Institute of Biotechnology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico said in a press release: "We have been working together to test the Mexican antivenom under United States rules for close to 12 years, learning a lot from the process and learning from each other."

"This collaboration has really helped us produce a better product. For this project we needed to combine laboratory science, clinical science and a good manufacturer, and we needed to design a good clinical trial."


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