Antivenom boxes to cure snakebite victims

Oct 15, 2011, 07:36 IST | Priyanka Vora

To provide instant treatment to thousands of bite victims in the country, drug company designs easy-to-use aid boxes that make anti-snake venom accessible to them in time

In order to reduce the number of deaths caused by snakebites due to late administration or unavailability of anti-snake venom, a state-owned drugs company, Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceuticals Corporation Limited, has devised a 'medicines for snake bite' box, equipped with bottles of anti-snake venom and other simple, use-friendly paraphernalia that can save a bite victim.

The box, which costs between Rs 1,000-1,500, has anti-snake venom bottles, syringe, ointment, bandages, cotton, and a tourniquet, along with a comprehensive booklet about tending to the victim.

The first-aid box, with its easy-to-apply anti-snake venom can help save crucial time in administering treatment to a snakebite victim

"The idea behind having these easy-to-use boxes is to reduce the number of deaths which can be easily avoided.
If local government bodies store these boxes, which have a shelf life of five years, they can just ask a local doctor to administer the anti-snake venom," said P R Sabde, director, Haffkine Bio-Pharmaceuticals, adding that around 100 aid boxed have already been supplied.

'500 victims a year'
As per the results published last year by the University of Toronto, based on interviews within rural communities, a million people are bitten by snakes in India each year.

"Every year, we see at least 500 cases of snakebites in the state of which 60 per cent result in death due to late administration of antivenom.

There have been instances wherein a snakebite victim has been rushed to a primary health centre, but they do not have anti-snake venom stored. Delay in treatment and loss of crucial time can results in death," said, Bharat Joshi, director, Sarpadarshan of India, a non-profit organisation.

The October heat triggers snakes to come out in farms, endangering human lives. Within 20-30 minutes of being bitten by a snake, the venom can easily spread into the circulation system of the body, ultimately leading to death.

"We see in movies that mouth suction of the venom or cutting the area of the bite are ways to stop the poison from spreading, but these conventional treatments have no scientific evidence to back their effectiveness.

With the manufacturing of the first-aid boxes, we even plan to have a training programme," said N R Garje, manager, Pimpri Haffkine, where the antivenom is produced.

He added that their facility is now certified by WHO, allowing them to export their anti-snake venom.

Rs 1,500
Approx cost of the box that contains antivenom bottles, syringe, ointment, bandages, tourniquet and an instruction booklet

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