An examination of the activity of expired and mistreated commercial Australian antivenoms


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Expired antivenoms may be useful in countries where snake envenoming is common and supplies are limited. This study examined the activity of expired Australasian antivenoms. Expired CSL snake antivenoms, including taipan, brown snake and polyvalent antivenoms, were used. The most current antivenom was used as the reference to compare expired antivenoms. Binding activity was assessed by enzyme immunoassay. Neutralisation of venom clotting effects was assessed by a modified clotting test using changes in optical density. Neutralisation of the in vitro neurotoxic effects of taipan venom was determined using a chick biventer cervicis nerve-muscle preparation. All antivenom batches remained active, with gradual deterioration in activity and binding over time. All batches of taipan antivenom at concentrations equivalent to the administration of one vial (including one 15 years expired) prevented clotting by taipan venom. Brown snake antivenoms also prevented clotting, except two that were 10 years old. All expired taipan/polyvalent antivenom prevented in vitro neurotoxicity at concentrations consistent with antivenom treatment. Freeze-thawing the antivenom or leaving it at room temperature for 3 days caused only small decreases in activity. CSL antivenoms are more robust than indicated on their label and maintain useful activity long past their nominated expiry dates. Crown Copyright � 2008.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937-942
Number of pages6
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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