Animal-derived antivenoms constitute the mainstay in the therapy of snakebite envenoming. Antivenoms are manufactured by immunizing animals, usually horses, with venoms from a single or several medically-relevant snake species. Antivenoms are constituted by either whole IgG molecules or the immunoglobulin fragments F(ab)2 and Fab, obtained by digestion with pepsin and papain, respectively. Differences in the pharmacokinetics of these active substances have pharmacodynamic implications. Novel technological possibilities may improve the quality of antivenoms in the future, as well as their microbial safety. Antivenom administration might induce early and late adverse reactions, whose possible mechanisms are discussed. Owing to the large variety in the composition of snake venoms and to the need to demonstrate neutralization of relevant snake venoms in different countries, a meticulous preclinical and clinical assessment of antivenom efficacy and safety is required before an antivenom is introduced into clinical application. The accessibility of antivenoms in low-income tropical countries is of concern and efforts should be directed at guaranteeing the access of safe and effective antivenoms at affordable prices and their correct clinical use in these countries.
Keywords: Snakebite, neglected tropical disease, antivenom, envenoming, fractionation, quality control, pharmacokinetic, viral safety, adverse reactions, Antivenom Efficacy, Hyperimmune Plasma
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