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Friday, June 18, 2021

BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals Issues Warning on Venom Extractors

To prepare for snakebite season, BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals, a maker of critical care medicines, calls on outdoor enthusiasts to throw away their venom extractor kits.

BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals also called on major sporting goods retailers to compare the marketing claims made by venom extractors to the medical evidence: they have no beneficial effect on snakebites and may cause serious damage to the wound.

If pausing to use an extractor prevents a snakebite victim from getting to a hospital as soon as possible, the result could be permanent tissue damage or disability.

After surveying nearly three dozen clinical publications, editorials and guidelines from such organizations as the American Red Cross, BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals interviewed 15 leading toxicology, emergency and wilderness medicine and poison center specialists. These experts in the treatment of snakebites unanimously agree that venom extractors should not be used to treat snakebites. And retailers should examine the claims these products make about snakebites, as they are not supported by the available medical evidence.

“There is no argument against the science,” said Dr. Sean Bush, a Wilderness Medicine Fellow at the Yale School of Medicine and a veteran emergency physician. “Because the extractors could cause an injury pattern, it goes against the physician’s oath to do no harm. It does no good and may do harm.”

BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals compiled the evidence and expert opinions in a report, “Venom Extractor Kits: More Harm, No Good.” The report is available on its website along with opportunities to participate in this campaign.

“Carrying a venom extractor kit in snake country provides a false sense of security,” said Jami Johnson, Medical Science Liaison at BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals. “They are a superstitious talisman, and their marketing claims are misinformation. We support the only proven first aid response to a snakebite: get to a hospital as quickly and safely as possible.”

Snakebite season is beginning now across the United States, and COVID-19 has increased interest in outdoor activities. Temperate weather could bring about more encounters between snakes and humans, just as it did in 2020, when hospitals and poison centers around the country reported marked increases in snakebites.

If bitten by a snake, do not attempt to treat the bite with a venom extractor, a tourniquet, a knife, ice, or anything else. The only effective and safe first-aid treatment for a snakebite is a swift trip to the hospital. Any delay in arriving at a hospital could put you in greater jeopardy of tissue damage or disability.

SnakeBite911, a popular mobile app, provides users with stepwise guidance on how to respond to a snakebite, directions to the nearest hospital, and information on North American pit viper snake species, snakebite treatment and aftercare. The app can also help a snakebite victim call 911 and track the spread of venom through her or his tissue.

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