Nationwide Shortage of Insect Venom Used for Immunotherapy


Dr. Mark MossMark Moss, MD, associate professor (CHS), Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, was interviewed for a story about a US-wide shortage of Hymenoptera venom extracts that are used to provide venom immunotherapy to people with life-threatening allergic reactions to bee, hornet, and wasp species. 

Small doses of venom extract are delivered by injection to at-risk patients to build up immunity and reduce the severity of reactions. 

"We've definitely had to do some mild rationing. What this entails is to space out the intervals between treatments," said Dr. Moss, who assured that the increased time between doses is working well for patients and those who need the shots have been able to get them.

A task force report written by members of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) stated that a major US supplier of the venom extracts has been unable to fill orders since October, 2016 and a second supplier is attempting to ramp up production. The task force members wrote, " is not clear how long it will take to restore normal production and distribution. An extended delay (1-2 years) has occurred in similar
situations in the past."

The AAAAI/ACAAI report provided guidance to clinicians about treatment modification due to the shortage.