Man’s ordeal stirs debate on cost of treating rattlesnake bites

KGTV 10 News – by Michael Chen

LA JOLLA, Calif. – The pain of a man’s rattlesnake bite in San Diego is now being felt across the country, and it’s not the physical pain.

10News was the first to bring you the story of Todd Fassler, who was bitten by a rattlesnake at the Barona Speedway on July 4.  

“He paralyzed my body … My tongue was sticking out, my eyes were to the side,” Fassler told 10News.

Fassler was bitten as he was trying to get a selfie with the snake.

While his ordeal hasn’t sparked much sympathy, it did lead to national stories published in the New York Times and Washington Post after 10News reporter Dan Haggerty tweeted the eye-opening hospital bill of more than $150,000.

Fassler had depleted two hospitals of its antivenin.

In 2012, a UC San Diego student from Norway was bitten on his leg and ended up with a similar hospital bill.

A big reason for the sticker shock is the price of antivenin. An average bite requires about 12 vials.

“Right now, vials cost about $5,000 a piece to the patient,” said Dr. Richard Clark, director of UCSD’s Poison Control Center. “It takes a lot of resources and development to produce.”

Another factor is the lack of competition, as Clark said, “When there is only one producer, their prices tend to be higher.”

Clark said a patent infringement lawsuit has stalled one competitor’s plans.

Another product just received FDA approval but won’t be on the market until late 2018.

“Once there are several companies marketing a drug, the price usually comes down, though it’s not a guarantee,” said Clark.

In Fassler’s case, the hospital and insurance company are going back and forth to determine the final bill.

According to Clark, there are about 100 rattlesnake bites in California each year, and 10 to 12 in San Diego County.

20 thoughts on “Man’s ordeal stirs debate on cost of treating rattlesnake bites

  1. Looks like the wholesale price of antivenom has doubled within the past couple years. No surprise, since allopathy is almost always about the money.

  2. LA JOLLA, Calif. – “Fassler was bitten as he was trying to get a selfie with the snake.”

    Natural selection ALMOST worked in this case.

    It may yet take a .40 to finish the job.

  3. “There’s currently only one commercially available antivenin for treating venomous snakebites in the United States — CroFab, manufactured by U.K.-based BTG plc. And with a stable market of 7,000 to 8,000 snakebite victims per year and no competitors, business is pretty good. BTG’s latest annual report shows CroFab sales topped out at close to 63 million British pounds, or $98 million dollars, last fiscal year. The antivenin costs hospitals roughly $2,300 per vial, according to Bloomberg, with a typical dose requiring four to six vials. In some cases multiple doses are needed, according to CroFab’s promotional Web site.”

  4. This is an excerpt from “Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C” by Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., published in 1988:

    Snakebite: He reported on a four-year-old girl bitten by a Highland Moccasin. She had severe pain in her leg and was vomiting within twenty minutes after the bite. Dr. Klenner gave four grams of C intravenously and within half an hour she had stopped crying and could now drink orangeade and began to laugh. “I’m all right now.” She slept well all night, but because of a slight fever and tenderness, Dr. Klenner gave her another four grams intravenously and again that late afternoon. No antibiotics and no anti-serum were necessary.

    Dr. Klenner had worked the schedule out on dogs and published it in hunting and fishing magazines. He has had many testimonials from satisfied doctors.

    “All the venom that will be encountered exists as you see the patient. It is important to give sufficient sodium ascorbate to neutralize the bite. The more you give; the faster will be the cure. We now routinely give 10 to 15 grams sodium ascorbate depending on the weight of the victim. Then as much of the drug as can be tolerated by mouth is given, usually 5 grams, every four hours.” Usually without the use of Vitamin C patients are stuck in the hospital requiring hot packs, antibiotics, anti-serum and nursing care. Many end up with much scarring.

    He recited the case of a man who was treated at another emergency room. The doctor tried to cut out the local bite area. When Dr. Klenner saw him it was badly infected and the temperature was 104°. Fifteen grams of C intravenously twice daily, 5 grams of C orally every four hours. Penicillin injected for the infection. He was back to work in seven days.

    “Sodium ascorbate will cure any type of snake bite.” The amounts and the speed of injection are critical. Forty to 60 grams intravenously as a starter. Klenner cites the 6500 deaths a year from snake bites, but many more from insects, bees, spider, plants and some caterpillars. They produce formic acid, histamine and specific toxin albumins. Some are neurotoxins; some cause capillary damage and hemorrhage. When cells are damaged proteins are deaminized, producing histamine and other toxic products; shock may occur. These deaminizing enzymes from the damaged cells are inhibited by Vitamin C. The pH of cells changes when cells are damaged; enzymes become destructive instead of constructive. C reverses this. Vitamin C is reduced in the serum of those in shock. 350-700 mg per kg body weight is the saving intravenous dose. In children up to two grams can be given in each of several areas (a twenty kg five year old could get two grams in each of four sites. Ice before and after the injection would control the pain).

    1. That is amazing, Enbe! Thank you very much!!!
      I’m pretty sure I’ve seen similar material about injectable C for cancer cure, so there’s probably a whole lot of things fixable via the same method. I don’t remember anything about the dosages, but the snake bite fix just blew my mind!

    2. Thanks for the nice words. The clinical guide is available online as a pdf you can download.

      Before anyone gets too happy, though, you should know that high-dose IV or oral vitamin C is NOT included on any allopathic treatment algorithm for poisonous bites or allergic reactions to insects, etc., and any ER doc or hospitalist will look at you like you’re wearing a tin foil hat if you request this treatment (plus the state licensing boards would give them a lot of grief for instituting such unprofitable “quackery.”)

      Be prepared for a home emergency by keeping a bottle of vitamin C powder or crystals, lecithin granules, and an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner with a steel bowl on hand to make liposomal vitamin C. There are youtube videos explaining how to make it. Once vitamin C is dissolved in water, it needs to be refrigerated and used within a week. If you need to take a big dose right away, dissolve the vitamin C in water and buffer it with baking soda, then use the liposomal form once you have it made.

  5. My hubby got bit by a brown recluse a while back. We both HATE going to doctors but the problem became so bad that he went to one anyway. The stupid doctor wanted to put him in the hospital and cut out the area where the bite was. Charged my hubby 50.00 just to tell him that. Hubby came home disgusted as usual, we went to the nearby natural food and herb store, bought some powdered activated charcoal and charcoal pills and between the two he was cured in about a week. Doctor wanted surgery, antibiotics, (which are useless on brown recluse bites) and gave a lot of attitude. Later I will share my trip to the hospital for my antiphylactic shock episode I had from eating bacon. No doubt compliments of gmo’s. But, that’s for another day.

    1. Sharon,
      I am an herbalist. I had a fellow that came to me in Tucson AZ. some
      years back that was bitten by a brown recluse. He had a nasty lesion
      developing on his shoulder that he kept rubbing. The lesion forms to stop the venom from entering the bloodstream. He was very stressed.
      I mixed up a batch of black salve from herbs I had on hand. Once the
      salve was applied, a clear liquid appeared on the surface of the skin.
      I gave him the remainder to use, along with some gauze to bandage it with. All swelling, as well as the lesion were gone the next day. Charcoal is one of the best remedies for so many problems. When I was in the Army back in the 60’s, if too much
      dish washing compound was used in the mess hall by the KP’s,
      GI spasm would set in. The standard treatment was charcoal.
      Believe me, the pain was horrible, and the charcoal knocked it
      out quickly…Black salve is a combination of about eleven herbs, and binders.

  6. MSM will work for “Snake and Spider Bites”


    My name is Susan and I was bit by a brown recluse spider on my foot. Normally the brown recluse is deadly because the venom rots your skin until you get an infection and die. My husband took a handful of the MSM powder and held it in his hand over the bite area while I was soaking my food in water. The MSM being extremely water soluble dissolved into the skin around and in the bite. Within 5 minutes the pain was gone and within 15 minutes the swelling was gone. MSM worked almost immediately and successfully saved my life.

    Back east the MSM is used as an anti-venom. When a snake bites a horse or a dog they cannot tell you what king of snake did it and if the wrong anti-venom is used to treat it, the animal will be killed. Instead they super saturate distilled water with MSM and inject it into a few places around the bite. It locks up the foreign proteins and flushes them out.

    1. Been taking MSM since it was originally introduced in this country (’98). I currently have close to 6 lbs. on hand.

      Got a great deal from someone going out of business.

  7. I was bitten by Australian brown snake in January . Before antivenom 50% fatality rate. Lucky in oz free medical treatment for citizens.i shit myself for an hour and half till I got to hospital .this country is full of these critters

  8. I’ll keep this short.
    Surgery would not exist…except for rapid awake saw amputations as in the Civil War (Southern States Rights) Era, if anesthesia had not been perfected.
    When a person has holes in them from any type of trauma…stabbing, GSW, broken bones sticking out akimbo…fractured pelvises, skulls, femurs, ribs with collapsed lungs, etc. Nobody “gives a shit” about “alternative” medicine. Plugging the holes ASAP, fixing the fractures, opening blocked vascular passages is the ONLY possibility for survival.
    And I f**king guarantee that you do NOT want that done if I (or someone with my skills) is not there.
    When you sit too long on an airplane and get dehydrated causing a clot in the large vein in your calf, and upon standing in shoots up through the right side of your heart lodging crosswise, in what’s called a “saddle embolus”, blocking both pulmonary arteries, preventing 90+% blood flow through your lungs and heart. You will thank me 2-3 days later, when you walk out of the hospital and go home, after your chest has been cut wide open with a circular saw in less than 30 seconds and the surgeon removes the clot, and closes the resulting holes thus saving your life.
    If I’m not there, you will be awake, aware, hear, see, remember and most importantly FEEL all of the pain associated with that. Your body will probably not tolerate the hemodynamics stress, and you would die.
    Thanks to me, you feel no pain, do not remember the surgery and horrific trauma inflicted, do not move while the surgeon is repairing your major vascular passages…and walk out 3 days later. During the procedure, I breathe for you, I replace lost blood and fluids for you, I measure your urine output to make sure your kidneys don’t shut down and I keep your blood pressure in a range that prevents end organ damage like a stroke, MI, etc
    It’s late tonight….and although I think I’m pretty open minded… NO f**king Vitamin C or B-17 or organic veggies were involved. And I guarantee you would have died if I used them.
    Should you be charged an astronomically exorbitant price for any of those services?
    Absolutely Not.
    25-30 years ago, you would not have been.
    Middlemen have interfered. they have no blood on their hands, face or body from the real work. They have not only skimmed, but criminally increased the price of medical care. I’m a conspiracy realist.
    I’m not going to say who they are here, because I know all readers of this site will know what entities I’m referring to.
    Trust me, I’m very empathetic about alternative cancer preventatives and cures.
    But when you take gunshot shot wounds to the chest/abdomen or anywhere, for that matter…traditional allopathic medicine has a s**tload of things to offer that you will be thankful for…and Vitamin C is way, way, way, down the f**king list.
    Thanks for letting me rant.
    Peace Out, as they say!

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