Why Snakebites Are About to Get a Lot More Deadly


Red and yellow kills a fellow...

Although this article was on a MSN.com it was important enough to post to this blog. What’s the answer to the question, you ask? Why government, of course:

Unfortunately, after Oct. 31 of this year, there may be no commercially available antivenom (antivenin) left. That’s the expiration date on existing vials of Micrurus fulvius, the only antivenom approved by the Food and Drug Administration for coral snake bites. Produced by Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, the antivenom was approved for sale in 1967, in a time of less stringent regulation.

Wyeth worked with the FDA to produce a five-year supply of the medicine to provide a stopgap while other options were pursued. After that period, the FDA extended the expiration date on existing stock from 2008 to 2009, and then again from 2009 to 2010. But as of press time, no new manufacturer has stepped forward.

Antivenom shortages are a surprisingly common occurrence. The entire state of Arizona ran out of antivenom for scorpion stings after Marilyn Bloom, an envenomation specialist at Arizona State University, retired in 1999. Bloom had been single-handedly making all the scorpion antivenom for state hospitals. Recently, Merck & Co, the only FDA-licensed producer of black widow antivenom, has cut back distribution because of a production shortage of the drug. In a 2007 report, the World Health Organization listed worldwide envenomations as a “neglected public health issue.”

The article is replete with such examples. This is exactly where government should step in. It is a seldom used but old technology. As such, there is a considerable history on manufacturing and cost while being for the overall public good. Yet government is actually the problem. The question is, pray tell, if the government can’t get this straight, then why does anyone think it can run the healthcare system correctly?

The answer is, of course, that government can’t!

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