Nursing Outtakes

Is Lisinopril Really Made from Snake Venom?

No, not really. But there is a close connection between snake venom and the development of ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors.

In 1968, Royal College of Surgeons laboratories of Nobel prize winner, John Vane, conducted studies that showed that peptides from the Brazilian viper’s venom inhibited ACE activity. Vane then proposed to US pharmaceutical company, ER Squibb and Sons, to do an ACE inhibitor research program.

From those humble beginnings, captopril was developed around 1974. It was the first of the ACE inhibitors, a chemical compound (which did not include snake venom but mimicked its effects on hypertension). By mid-80s, Merck had developed an ACE inhibitor, enalapril. From there, we now have a host of antihypertensive medications - adrenergic blockers (including alpha, beta, alpha-beta and peripherally acting blockers); angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs); calcium channel blockers (including dihydropyridines and nondihydropyridines); centrally acting alpha-agonists; direct vasodilators; as well as other ACE inhibitors.

So, what’s up with the snake venom story still circulating? Seems the public has an unending fascination with snakes and their venom as medicine. Currently rattlesnake pills are being marketed as supplements for various conditions. This ‘natural’ approach comes with its own headaches, salmonella being one of them. To read more about this, check out this article on Pharmacy Times (no affiliation).

©2022 Guiomar Goransson