MEXICO CITY Aug 4 Scorpions are alternately
cherished and feared in parts of northern Mexico, where stings
are common and the dead critters adorn key-chains and
Now Mexican scientists are bringing to the United States
the result of years of experience battling the sometimes-deadly
effects of their stings with a newly approved anti-venom.
The product, sold in the United States under the name
Anascorp, was developed by scientists at Mexico's National
Autonomous University and the private Instituto Bioclon.
It was tested at U.S. emergency rooms on more than 500
victims of painful scorpion stings before gaining U.S. Food and
Drug Administration approval on Wednesday.
The FDA said Anascorp is made from the plasma of horses
immunized with scorpion venom and its developers say the
antidote is the first Mexican drug to win approval from U.S.
health authorities. Researchers have high hopes that it can
save lives in southwestern U.S. states where stings are
Scorpions prick an estimated 10,000 Americans each year,
mostly in Arizona, and more than 250,000 Mexicans, the serum's
developers said. Injections of Anascorp counteract the stings
within two hours by neutralizing the scorpion's poison.
"This is extremely important in the United States and
particularly in Arizona where we have the most bites," said
scientist Jose Lever, who oversaw clinical trials for the drug
in the United States. "Before this there was no anti-venom and
patients had to undergo intensive treatments."
There are more than 1,000 species of scorpion -- about 50
of which are dangerous to humans.
Victims with severe reactions can go into convulsions and
choke on their own saliva, according to experts at the
University of Arizona. Intensive-care doctors often have to
heavily sedate and intubate them.
(Reporting by Rachel Uranga; Editing by Bill Trott)