Coral Snake Antivenin In Short Supply

A man who was bit by a coral snake (Micrurus spp.) in Florida found out that the antivenin currently approved by the Federal Drug Administration to treat coral snake bites is in short supply, and the hospital that he was transported to for treatment instead gave him coral snake antivenin that has not yet been approved by the FDA.

Tim Cashman was clearing out brush on his property in Wimauma, Fla., when he lifted a piece of wood where a coral snake was hiding under and was bit. Cashman went to the nearest hospital, which didn't have coral snake antivenin. He was transported to Tampa General Hospital, where he was given the experimental antivenin.

According to Cynthia Lewis-Younger of the Florida Poison Information Center of Tampa, the pharmaceutical company that makes the FDA approved coral snake antivenin is no longer making it and the current supply on the market, a single lot, expires at the end of this month. "Of course, when you have a limited amount, it tends to dwindle in supply and that's what happened," Lewis-Younger told ABC Action News in Tampa Bay.

Tampa General is one of the hospitals taking part in an antivenin trial that the University of Arizona is developing for the treatment of coral snake bites and Cashman is glad that he took the experimental antivenin. He told the news organization that he is happy that the hospital is participating in t he trial and hopes the antivenin gets approved. 

The coral snake can be found from central North Carolina to eastern Louisiana, mainland Florida and the Upper Florida Keys. They grow to about 2.5 feet in length with some growing larger. They sometimes resemble the look of king snakes and there are non-venomous snakes that resemble the look of coral snakes. Coral snakes are a front fanged venomous snake that packs very potent venom.

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