FDA Approves First Scorpion Sting Antidote
Though rarely life threatening, scorpion stings can be extremely pain-ful, causing numbness and burning at the wound site. And there’s been little a victim could do to ease the pain.
The Food and Drug Administration has just approved the first treatment specifically for the sting of the Centruroides scorpion, the most com-mon type in the United States.
The new biologic treatment—called Anascorp—was given a priority review because adequate treatment did not exist in the United States, says Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
This product provides a new treatment for children and adults and is designed specifically for scorpion stings,‖ Midthun says.
Scorpion stings can be life-threatening, especially in infants and children.‖
Severe stings can cause loss of muscle control and difficulty breathing, requiring heavy sedation and intensive care in a hospital. Most often, it’s small children who experience severe reactions, but adults can be affected, too, says Keith Boesen, managing director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center (APDIC).
Boesen says Arizona’s two poison centers document about 11,000 scorpion stings each year; 17,000 stings were re-ported to U.S. poison centers nationwide in 2009.
We at the APDIC and University of Arizona College of Pharmacy are very excited (about Anascorp’s approval). I am proud of the expertise of the pharmacists and physicians working at the APDIC who helped make this research possible,‖ he says.
Anascorp was developed in Mexico and has been used there for many years, according to University of Arizona re-searchers who led the U.S. study of the drug. It’s made from the plasma of horses immunized with scorpion venom and vaccinated against viruses that could infect humans. Researchers began studying the drug in Arizona hospitals in 2004 and found it to be highly effective against the sting of the bark scorpion (also called the Arizona bark scorpion)—the most poisonous scorpion in the U.S.
Without Anascorp, children experiencing the most severe symptoms usually had to stay in intensive care in the hospital for several days; but when Anascorp was administered, researchers found patients’ symptoms disappeared after a few hours in the emergency room—eliminating the need for a hospital stay.
The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center says most stings to healthy, young adults can be managed at home with basic first aid and follow-up. Victims should:
clean the site with soap and water
apply a cool compress
elevate the affected limb to the same level as your heart take aspirin or acetaminophen as needed for minor discomfort.
If a child is stung or the victim experiences severe symptoms, go to a medical facility immediately. If the child is under 5 years old or if an older patient is experiencing more than minor discomfort, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
Experts say desert dwellers should know the symptoms of a scorpion sting and get treatment if severe symptoms develop. Severe symptoms include shortness of breath, fluid in the lungs, breathing problems, excess saliva, blurred vision, slurred speech, trouble swallowing, abnormal eye movements, muscle twitching, thrashing of the arms and legs, trouble walking, and other, uncoordinated muscle movements.
This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
Released August 3, 2011