FRANCES ROBLES reporting for the Miami Herald writes:
Snake handler Giselle Hosein was in the middle of her performance Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Hollywood, displaying a three-foot Indian cobra also known as “naja naja” when, as she placed the “spectacled” cobra back into its cage, it nipped the palm of her hand. She calmly stepped aside and whispered to her boss: “I’ve been bit.”
A bite like this can quickly cause paralysis and death. Hosein was one of the lucky ones thanks to Miami-Dade’s unique Venom Response Unit who flew to Hosein’s rescue. Hosein is in stable condition at a Hollywood, Florida hospital.
What does this have to do with horses? Antivenin (equine origin) is made by injecting a horse with venom taken from poisonous snakes, spiders, even scorpions, then withdrawing quantities of the horse’s blood to harvest the antibodies produced against the venom’s active molecule.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Venom Response Unit, the country’s only fire department-based antivenin bank, arrived at the hospital by helicopter with five vials imported from India.
Miami-Dade banks antivenin to treat 50 different kinds of venom, covering 90 percent of snakes, scorpions and spiders. The product is made by milking venom from snakes and injecting it into horses. Antibodies from the horse’s blood are used to develop the treatment, which is freeze-dried and then reconstituted with saline.
It is not exactly approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is why it’s not kept at the hospital. The Venom Response Team keeps its stash at Tamiami Airport, where it can be easily transported by chopper.
Antivenin is produced in the US, or by US-based pharmaceutical giants who manufacture drugs worldwide.
Merck makes a black widow spider antivenin (equine origin) using horses.
And no surprise here, but when Pfizer acquired Wyeth, they picked up a division that manufactures snake bite antivenin (equine origin) made with — you guessed it, horses.
Mostly big horses are used because they have lots of blood to donate for antivenin production.
How handy that Pfizer / Wyeth have lots of “big horses” at their disposal, so to speak, from the manufacture of their Premarin family of drugs.
Now about this? Antivenin is also made in Mexico, using you guessed it, horses, in this case we are told they mostly use slaughter horses. How convenient for them, and how tasty for horse meat diners. Now that’s toxic.
Why keep using horses to produce antivenin? That is an important question in light of the fact that the National Geographic reported in 2003 that scientists in India found a way to induce snake antivenin into common poultry eggs.
It seems that the exploitation of horses is absolutely endless.
Learn more about antivenin (antivenom) here.