Home News Expert makes case for antivenom factory in Nigeria
News - June 27, 2017

Expert makes case for antivenom factory in Nigeria

Dr. Nandul Durfa, Managing Director, EchiTAB Study Ltd, distributors of EchiTAB Anti-Snake Venom (ASV) in Africa, has urged the Federal Government to establish an ASV producing factory to reduce its cost.

Durfa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Jos that a local factory would make the product cheap and available, and reduce morbidity and mortality owing to snake bites.

“We sell a dose at N30,000 to clients who, in turn, sell to the patients at their own rates.

“Some patients need only one dose, but others may require up to three. It means that those that cannot afford the cost will go for traditional medicine or just resign to fate.

“If the ASV is produced in Nigeria, a dose could go for as low as N5,000,” the pioneer Chief Medical Director of the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, said.

He said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo approved a production plan and cost for manufacturing the ASV in 2006, but regretted that nothing came out it.

“Obasanjo suggested that the money for the project be sourced from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) fund; sadly, no money was made available for the project.”

Durfa explained that the ASV had three variants including EchiTAB G for carpet vipers responsible for 97 per cent cases of snake bites in Nigeria, and EchiTAP Plus for carpet viper, Puff Adder and Black Cobra venom.

He traced the ASV’s production to 1991, when Prof. Ransome Kuti, then health minister, sought the assistance of two UK Professors – David Warrel of Oxford University and David Theakston of Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

“There was an acute shortage of ASV then and the minister contacted the duo.

“The production processes went through various levels of screening and 11 clinical purification trials before the drugs were certified and registered by NAFDAC.

“The clinical trials were carried out in Kaltungo General Hospital, Gombe State, Zamko Comprehensive Health Centre, Langtang and Jos University Teaching Hospital,” he revealed.

He advised government to pay special attention to local production of the drug because snake bites affect mostly the productive group like the farmers, cattle grazers, hunters and rat-hunting youths.

Worldwide, an estimated five million people are bitten by snakes each year, with an average of 100,000 deaths, according to World Health Organisation records.

In Africa, an estimated one million snakebites occur annually, with Nigeria among nations worst hit.

Records obtained from the Kaltungo General Hospital, for instance, showed that between 2005 and 2010, a total of 12,398 snakebite victims were attended to, with 55 deaths recorded.

Many of the victims were from Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba and Adamawa States.

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