LYON, France, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- French pharmaceutical company
Sanofi Pasteur says it's no longer profitable to make one of the
most vital anti-venom for snakebites in Africa.
Fav-Afrique counters the toxins of some of the world's most
deadly venomous snakes. Critics of the move say its removal from
the market -- Sanofi Pasteur expects its current supply to be
depleted by June of next year -- will put thousands of victims
in Sub-Saharan Africa at risk.
"Fav-Afrique is no longer being manufactured so vulnerable
farmers will lose their lives or limbs," Abdulrazaq Habib, a
professor of infectious and tropical diseases at Nigeria's
Bayero University, told The Independent.
Sanofi Pasteur says cheap drugs from Brazil, India and Mexico
have forced it out of the anti-venom market. The technology used
to make Fav-Afrique will be adapted for the production of rabies
Following the announcement by Sanofi Pasteur, healthcare
advocates called for swift action by the World Health
Organization and governments in a position to make a difference.
"In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 30,000 people die from snakebite
every year and an estimated 8,000 undergo amputations," Doctors
Without Borders (MSF) wrote in a press release. "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."
Venomous snakebites are common, especially in Africa, but are
relatively ignored by world health bodies.
"We are now facing a real crisis so why do governments,
pharmaceutical companies and global health bodies slither away
when we need them most?" said Dr. Gabriel Alcoba, a medical
advisor with MSF's snakebite program. "Imagine how frightening
it must be to be bitten by a snake -- to feel the pain and venom
spread through your body -- knowing it may kill you and there is
no treatment available or that you can't afford to pay for it?"