Recombinant snakebite antivenoms: A cost-competitive solution to a neglected tropical disease?

07 Feb 2018

Snakebite envenoming is a major public health burden in tropical parts of the developing world. In sub-Saharan Africa, neglect has led to a scarcity of antivenoms threatening the lives and limbs of snakebite victims. Technological advances within antivenom are warranted, but should be evaluated not only on their possible therapeutic impact, but also on their cost-competitiveness. Recombinant antivenoms based on oligoclonal mixtures of human IgG antibodies produced by CHO cell cultivation may be the key to obtaining better snakebite envenoming therapies. Based on industry data, the cost of treatment for a snakebite envenoming with a recombinant antivenom is estimated to be in the range USD 60-250 for the Final Drug Product. One of the effective antivenoms (SAIMR Snake Polyvalent Antivenom from the South African Vaccine Producers) currently on the market has been reported to have a wholesale price of USD 640 per treatment for an average snakebite. Recombinant antivenoms may therefore in the future be a cost-competitive alternative to existing serum-based antivenoms.