by Emilie Alirol, Pauline Lechevalier, Federica Zamatto et al.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(9): e0003896 (September 10, 2015)
Of the 24 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and conditions listed by WHO, snakebite is among the top killers. Tens of thousands of people die each year as a result of snakebite envenoming, with close to 50,000 deaths in India alone and up to 32,000 in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet there are few sources of effective, safe, and affordable antivenoms. The regions that bear the highest snakebite burden are especially underserved. The Fav-Afrique antivenom, produced by Sanofi Pasteur (France), is considered safe and effective and is one of the few antivenoms to be approved by a Stringent Regulatory Authority. Worryingly, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been informed that the production of Fav-Afrique by Sanofi Aventis will be permanently discontinued. The last batch was released in January 2014, with an expiry date of June 2016. All the vials produced have already been sold by Sanofi Pasteur. Although several alternative antivenom products target a similar list of species as Fav-Afrique, there is currently no evidence of their safety and effectiveness.