CBS NEWS – For a man in San Diego, getting bitten by a rattlesnake was just the beginning of his problems. The life-threatening encounter was followed by a shocking medical bill: $153,000 for his treatment.
Todd Fassler was bitten earlier this month, reportedly while trying to pose for a selfie with the snake.
Like most snake bite victims, Fassler needed many doses of the antivenom CroFab, the only current drug available to counteract the potentially deadly snake venom. Bites from less poisonous snakes can require as little as three doses, but the most toxic poisonous snake bites can take dozens of doses. A California boy bitten by an highly toxic snake in 2012 required 42 vials of antivenom, and some patients need even more.
“The only effective treatment is antivenom,” Dr. Keith Boesen, director of the Arizona Poison & Drug Information Center, told CBS News. “There’s blood tests we can do to determine the effect of the venom. Hospital bills can always be worked out or negotiated, but you can’t really negotiate, other than prosthetics, the loss of part of your hand or your arm.”
Boesen said he knew of one snake bite victim in Arizona who required 74 vials of antivenom. The wholesale rate that hospitals pay to the manufacturer is $2,500 per vial and the markup to patients and insurance is much higher.
Fassler’s bill included a line item of $83,341.25 for “pharmacy” to cover the antivenom, as reporter Dan Haggerty of KGTV in San Diego posted on Twitter. According to the original report, Fassler used up the antivenom supply from two hospitals.
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