Retrospection and Prospection for Manufacturing of Snake Antivenins in Taiwan

Ya-Li Hsu, Chia-jung Wu, Tsu-Chen Chou, Wen-Chin Hsieh,Ya-Fen Cheng, Jen-Ron Chiang

2013 Vol.29 NO.6

Correspondence Author: Ya-Li Hsu

  • Vaccine Center, Centers for Disease Control, Taiwan


        Taiwan is located in the subtropics, suitable for snake propagation. According to the Department of Health showed, approximately 1,000 people were bitten by snakes each year during 2002 to 2005, mostly by Trimeresurus stejnegeri, Trimersurus mucrosquamatus, Naja atra (common cobra). Injecting the correct antivenin timely is the key treatment to preserve life and can reduce mortality rate to less than 1%. The Centers for Disease Control, Department of Health, Taiwan (Taiwan CDC) have persisted in antivenin manufacturing, research, and development for more than 70 years. Because there are regional differences in snake venin, refining equine plasma from horses immunized by viper venom of native species is needed. Production of antivenin is not easy and it cannot be purchased. Taiwan CDC have entrusted Houli Horse Farm to raise the hyperimmunized horses since 1993, which at one time had about 80 hyperimmunized horses. The horse farm provided good environment for raising healthy hyperimmunized horses and timely production of antivenin in coordination with Taiwan CDC. The horse farm is open to the public for recreation. However, its facility is gradually unable to meet the latest national current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) regulations. To ensure steady supply of domestic antivenin, Taiwan CDC is build a new hyperimmunized horse farm in line with national cGMP requirements during 2009 to 2013, and planned to cooperate with non-governmental organizations or academic institutions to produce antivenin. Through these, Taiwan CDC hopes to enhance domestic horse immunization production technology and the quality of antivenin.