Adverse Events in the Efficacy of Crotalidae Polyvalent Immune Fab Antivenom vs Placebo in Recovery from Copperhead Snakebite Trial

Michael E. Mullins*, Charles J. Gerardo, Sean P. Bush, S. Rutherfoord Rose, Spencer Greene, Eugenia B. Quackenbush, Brandon Lewis, Victoria E. Anderson, Kurt C. Kleinschmidt, Richard B. Schwarz, Nathan P. Charlton, Eric A. Toschlog, Kapil Sharma, David A. Denning, Eric J. Lavonas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective To compare the incidence of hypersensitivity reactions following copperhead envenomation treated with Fab antivenom (FabAV) or placebo. Methods Patients with copperhead snakebites received treatment and follow-up in a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of FabAV or placebo. The treatment allocation ratio was 2:1 (FabAV:placebo). All of the included patients received at least one dose of study treatment. We reviewed all treatment-emergent adverse events (AEs) using a previously published scale to classify likely hypersensitivity reactions as mild, moderate, or severe. Results We enrolled 74 patients at 13 sites. Forty-five patients received FabAV, and 29 patients received placebo. Five FabAV patients and 4 placebo patients had moderate envenomations; the rest were mild. Twenty-five FabAV patients and 8 placebo patients had at least 1 AE. Mild skin reactions occurred in 11 (24%) FabAV patients (pruritis, urticaria, rash, ecchymosis, erythema) and 1 (3%) placebo patient (pruritis). Moderate gastrointestinal AEs occurred in 7 (16%) FabAV patients (nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, oral paresthesia) and in 2 (7%) placebo patients (nausea). Respiratory AEs occurred in 3 (7%) FabAV patients (dyspnea, pulmonary embolism, nasal congestion, sneezing) and no placebo patients. Hypotension occurred in 1 patient in each group. Conclusions In a randomized controlled trial of FabAV for copperhead bites, the incidence of hypersensitivity reactions was low. Most reactions were mild skin reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-720
Number of pages5
JournalSouthern Medical Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Agkistrodon contortrix
  • antivenom
  • copperhead
  • hypersensitivity
  • snakebite


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