Coral snakes lack the ruthless efficiency of some other venomous snakes, but they have a couple of factors working in their favor against the likes of you or me. One is the sheer toxicity of the venom, which starts out slowly (so you don’t notice it so much) but finishes with a grand flourish: it paralyzes the lungs.
[A]fter Oct. 31 of this year, there may be no commercially available antivenom (antivenin) left. That’s the expiration date on existing vials of … the only antivenom approved by the Food and Drug Administration for coral snake bites. Produced by Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, the antivenom was approved for sale in 1967, in a time of less stringent regulation.
Wyeth kept up production of coral snake antivenom for almost 40 years. But given the rarity of coral snake bites, it was hardly a profit center, and the company shut down the factory that made the antivenom in 2003.
A Mexican manufacturer, Bioclon, has developed its own version of a coral-specific antivenom, but apparently they can’t afford the level of clinical testing demanded by the FDA.
The alternative? Weeks on a ventilator, until the effects of the venom wear off, or maybe a call to Samuel L. Jackson.
(Via Scribal Terror.)