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FDA Approves First Treatment for Scorpion Stings

Bark scorpion (Jeb Zirato/University of Arizona)

Bark scorpion (Jeb Zirato/University of Arizona)

The Food and Drug Administration approved Anascorp, the first specific treatment for a sting by Centruroides scorpions, commonly known as the Arizona Bark Scorpion in the United States. The drug was developed by Rare Disease Therapeutics Inc. in Franklin, Tennessee, licensing research by University of Arizona in Tucson and and two research institutes in Mexico.

University of Arizona says more than 15,000 people in the U.S. report scorpion stings each year, but only a few hundred people a year suffer from severe symptoms. Those symptoms include numbness radiating from the sting site, increased heart rate, agitation, restlessness, abnormal eye movements, drooling, and breathing problems.

Most of these cases are in Arizona, as the desert southwest is the main habitat for the only scorpion species in the United States, the bark scorpion, whose sting occasionally causes these physical responses in people.

FDA says the effectiveness of Anascorp was based on results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 15 children with neurological signs of scorpion stings. These signs resolved within four hours of treatment in the eight subjects who received Anascorp, but in only one of the seven participants who received the placebo. In total, safety and efficacy data were collected from 1,534 patients in both open-label and blinded studies.

The antivenom must be administered by a physician and usually will be used in hospital emergency rooms. The product is expected to be available commercially in about a month.

The most common side effects were vomiting, fever, rash, nausea, itchiness, headache, runny nose, and muscle pain. Specialists at the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center plan to report unusual patient responses to Anascorp immediately to Rare Disease Therapeutics.

Read more: FDA Designates Orphan Drug Made From Tarantula Venom

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