It is estimated that nearly 2500 people die of snakebites in Pakistan every year. The total number of snakebites reported per year is about 50,000. According to the studies, the number grossly underestimates the total number of snakebites in the country by a factor of 4. However, not all snakebites are venomous. In interior Sindh, Baluchistan and many rural areas, snakebites are endemic. Cobra and 3 spices of viper are considered the dominant poisonous snakes in Pakistan causing haemorrhage and neurotoxicity resulting in death and morbidity.
Pakistan currently produces only 6% of its anti-venom sera needs. Rest of it is imported. Anti-venom serum produced from non-native snakes is non-specific and large quantities need to be given to counter the effect of venom. Pakistan is in dire need for both expanded production of anti-venom antisera and new research needs to be developed to enhance specificity of its anti-venom products.
National University of Medical Sciences is working in collaboration with Oxford University in the areas of anti-venom antisera against snakes that are indigenous to Pakistan by studying venom regional variations, develop clinical programs in endemic areas of snakebites to educate the population and develop treatment protocols. We are in the process of developing partnership with an Australian group that leads in venom research and development. Clinical trials on anti-venom antisera have never been performed in Pakistan and our goal is to carry out the first of its kind trials in Pakistan. Large numbers of our animals are bitten by snakes and large quantities of anti-venom antisera are required for their treatment.
Our ultimate goal is to produce anti-venom anti-sera of high potency that covers all snake species in Pakistan and meet the country's needs for anti-venoms.