Snakebite is one of the world's biggest hidden health problems with up to 138,000 victims dying every year, and around 400,000 victims left with permanent physical disabilities or disfigurements. Those most affected live in some of the world's poorest communities in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America and often rely on agricultural activities for their income. These activities put them at risk of snakebite by working in areas inhabited by venomous snakes, and the remoteness of many of these communities makes accessing appropriate healthcare problematic. Snakebite victims in rural settings are therefore often greatly delayed in receiving treatment, because existing antivenom therapies have to be delivered in clinical settings due to their requirement to be given intravenously and because of their high risk of adverse reactions.
Snakebite was recently classified as a 'priority NTD' by the World Health Organization (WHO), who have since developed a strategy to halve the number of snakebite deaths and disabilities by the year 2030 by improving existing treatments, developing new therapeutics and empowering local communities to improve pre-hospital treatment. Utilising novel compounds, such as DMPS, which can be administered orally outside a healthcare facility, could save many thousands of lives in these rural settings.