Arizona Poison Center to test new snake antivenom

Published: May. 11, 2015 at 2:28 PM MST|Updated: May. 25, 2015 at 2:45 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Get a rattlesnake bite, and you soon will have another option for treating it.

A new antivenom, called Anavip, has just won FDA approval.

The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona helped test it before it was approved and it could do more research on it.

The Tucson scientists want to take a closer look at it to see how they can use it to provide the best treatment to snakebite patients in Arizona.

Since last Monday night, when a Tucson girl was bitten, there have been two more rattlesnake bites in Arizona.

Arizona has many different kinds of rattlesnakes.

When the new antivenom hits the market in late 2018, it will give us two drugs to treat snakebite.

The other drug is CroFab which won FDA approval in 2000.

Arizona scientists want to compare the two and see just how the new drug might help them improve treatments.

"Looking at things like what is the ultimate appropriate dose for the patient populations that we have? How does it compare to the current drug on the market? Is there a way that we can utilize both drugs together? We're looking at all of these potential questions and, because of our uniqueness in Arizona with the diversity of rattlesnakes that we have, the complexity behind the bites, having every possible tool available to us to treat these patients is ideal for us," says Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center Director Dr. Keith Boesen.

"We know that with one drug available to us that there are some patients that we have a very difficult time controlling. And our answer is to give more drug and more drug and more drug. The option might exist that these patients may respond better to a different option."

Boesen says scientists are excited about the potential to further test the new drug.

"We have so many different types and varieties of snakes that live in Arizona--which really results in--per capita you are more likely to be bit by a rattlesnake in Arizona than any other states in the country. So the poison centers in Arizona treat over 200 rattlesnake bites a year. And having as many options to take care of these patients is really ideal for us."

Since this rattlesnake season began in April, 18 people have been bitten in Tucson.

This is considered an average year.

At the peak of the season, in August and September, Boesen says we can see at least one snakebite per day in Arizona.

The two centers that would test the new drug are the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center at the UA College of Pharmacy in Tucson which covers 14 of the 15 counties, and Banner Poison & Drug Information Center at Banner-University Medical Center Phoenix which covers Maricopa County.

Both centers helped in testing Anavip before it was approved for use in the United States.

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