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FDA Approves Nation's First Scorpion Antivenom, Tested at UA

Aug. 03--A Mexican-made antivenom that cures children of severe nerve poisoning and was tested in clinical trials through the University of Arizona was approved today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The antivenom Anascorp is an antidote to the sting from the small, slender bark scorpion, which is the most common house visitor of all Arizona scorpions. It's also the most dangerous. Small children are at highest risk of severe reactions.

"This is an historic event," said Dr. Leslie Boyer, the lead investigator in the UA clinical trials.

"This is the first-ever drug approved for this use by the FDA; the first-ever drug that we are aware of being developed fully in Latin America and subsequently approved by the FDA; the first-ever scorpion antivenom proved effective under controlled clinical trials; and the first-ever antivenom with so few allergic reactions."

This approval also is the culmination of a nearly 12-year collaboration of academic and clinical researchers with partners in business and industry from both sides of the border.

In Arizona, which has the highest concentration of dangerous bark scorpions in the United States, about 8,000 scorpion stings occur each year. Several hundred of these result in serious nerve poisoning and require medical treatment. Nearly all of these patients are young children, whose breathing may be severely affected by the effects of the venom. Without antivenom, children stung by scorpions typically require heavy sedation and intensive supportive care and, often, a ventilator.

"This antivenom basically takes symptoms away in a very short time. What was a life-threatening disease that would put kids in the pediatric ICU has become, for most of them, an outpatient disease," said Dr. Andreas Theodorou, a UA professor of pediatrics, chief medical officer of University Medical Center and a member of the research team.

See Thursday's Arizona Daily Star for more on this story.


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Posted: August 2011