Poison Prevention Week (March 20-26): Avoiding and Surviving Emergency Poisonings, Including Snakebite

Mar 18, 2011, 14:40 ET from BTG International Inc.

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa., March 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- BTG International Inc., the specialist healthcare company, advises that Poison Prevention Week, which occurs during the third week of March each year, is an ideal time to review proper protocol in the event of actual or suspected poisoning.  Knowing what steps to take can reduce potential damage and even prevent death.

Accidental ingestion of harmful substances by children is a concern for parents, but many people may not realize that most poisoning deaths in the U.S. occur in adults, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).  Poison Control Centers in the U.S. receive more than 4 million calls annually about different types of poisonings and related fatalities – including snakebite.

Of course, prevention is always the best medicine, but in the event of poisoning, appropriate treatment in a timely fashion may be the key to survival.  The safety and efficacy of today's antidotes mean that fewer people face long-term harm, disability or death.  But to benefit from life-saving treatments, it is important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible, and hospitals and other emergency facilities must ensure they are properly stocked with appropriate medications.

Beginning in April when the weather gets warmer, one potential poisoning source – venomous snakebite – is more likely to occur.  Approximately 8,000 cases of venomous snakebite and five to six related deaths occur in the United States each year.  Venomous snakebites may have other serious consequences, including loss of a finger or toe, if not treated promptly.  Victims of snakebite should react calmly but swiftly in seeking medical attention.  CroFab® Crotalidae Polyvalent Immune Fab (ovine), an antidote for venomous snakebites from North American pit vipers, or crotalids (rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths/water moccasins), usually is available at emergency facilities in hospitals.

As we approach snakebite season, generally April through October, a few tips to avoid being bitten are to leave snakes alone when encountered by taking several steps away from the snake's striking range; stay out of tall grass; remain on pathways; and exercise caution when picking up tree logs or other items on the ground.

Many myths and much misinformation exist about what to do if bitten by a snake, including cutting the skin ("x marks the spot"); sucking the poison; applying a tourniquet, bandage or pressure; and using ice packs, all of which may increase tissue damage. Snakebite treatment is best left to expert emergency medical professionals!

The American Association of Poison Control Centers supports the work of more than 60 poison control centers nationwide.  Poison control centers are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Dial 1-800-222-1222 from anywhere in the United States to connect with a local poison control center.  The call is free, confidential, and answered by medical professionals.

"Snakebites are most prevalent in the south and other warm areas of the United States.  If bitten, seek immediate emergency medical treatment for an antidote, as necessary, to avoid or limit serious consequences," says Dr. Mark Ryan, Director of the Louisiana Poison Center at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport.  "Venomous snakebites can result in intense pain, swelling, damage to cells or tissue at the injury site and beyond, secondary infection or even death.  When dealing with poisonous snakebites, patients need to get to a medical facility that is prepared to treat them as quickly as possible for the best outcome."

About CroFab®

CroFab® is an intravenous antivenom used for the management of patients with North American crotalid envenomation.  Crotalid snakes include rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths/water moccasins.  BTG International Inc. markets and distributes CroFab® in the United States.

Early use of CroFab® (within 6 hours of snakebite) is advised to prevent a patient's clinical deterioration and the occurrence of systemic blood-clotting (coagulation) abnormalities.

Important Safety Information

The most common adverse events reported in clinical studies were mild or moderate reactions involving the skin and appendages (primarily urticaria, rash, or pruritus), which occurred in 14 out of 42 patients. Three patients experienced a serious adverse event. Two patients had a severe allergic reaction (severe hives and a severe rash and pruritus) following treatment.  One patient had a recurrent coagulopathy due to envenomation, which required rehospitalization and additional antivenom administration.  In clinical trials, recurrent coagulopathy (the return of a coagulation abnormality after it has been successfully treated with antivenom), characterized by decreased fibrinogen, decreased platelets, and elevated prothrombin time, occurred in approximately half of the patients studied.  Recurrent coagulopathy may persist for 1 to 2 weeks or more.  One patient discontinued CroFab® therapy due to an allergic reaction.  Patients with allergies to papain, chymopapain, other papaya extracts, or the pineapple enzyme bromelain may also be at risk for an allergic reaction to CroFab®.  

For CroFab® full prescribing information, visit:  http://www.crofab.com.

About BTG

BTG is an international specialist healthcare company that is developing and commercializing products targeting critical care, cancer and other disorders.  The company is seeking to acquire new products to develop and market to specialist physicians, and is building a sustainable business financed by revenues from sales of its own marketed products and from royalties and milestone payments on partnered products.

SOURCE BTG International Inc.