Bee venom extract shortage expected to last through summer

Insect stings can be deadly to some, which is why a current shortage is a scary scenario.

A shortage of the venom extract used to treat people with life-threatening allergies to insect stings is expected to last through the summer, according to a report from UF Health.

The extract is used for immunotherapy, a series of shots that slowly build up a person’s natural immunity.

Dr. Thomas Lupoli, a board-certified allergist, and immunologist with Allergy and Asthma Specialists of North Florida said a manufacturer alerted them in the fall to anticipate a shortage.

Since then, they’ve been following suggestions to ration their supply.

“Folks who have been on allergy shots for a very long time... we could maybe space those injections out,” Lupoli said. “Instead of giving it to them every month, maybe we could give it to them every eight weeks.”

According to the UF Health report, an issue with manufacturing at one of the extract providers caused a 35 percent drop in supply.

“For individuals who have had these severe reactions it is very critical that they are able to have access to their allergen immunotherapy so they can remain desensitized to what they’re allergic to,” Lupoli said.

For those people, the reaction to stings goes beyond discomfort; it can be life-threatening.

“Fast heartbeat, difficulty breathing and swelling of the throat,” Lupoli said. “Especially in Florida, we do a lot of outdoor stuff and you can’t really anticipate when you’re gonna be stung by a bee or a hornet or a wasp.”

Lupoli said the shortage has not and should not impact patient care. Everyone who needs the injection will still be able to get it.
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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