Skin Exposure Reduction Paste Against Chemical Warfare Agents (SERPACWA)

The following drug information is obtained from various newswires, published medical journal articles, and medical conference presentations.

Approval Status:

Approved February 2000

Specific Treatments:

For use in conjunction with MOPP gear to reduce the absorption of chemical warfare agents through the skin

Therapeutic Areas

General Information

The Skin Exposure Reduction Paste Against Chemical Warfare Agents (SERPACWA) is indicated for the use in conjunction with Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) gear to reduce or delay the absorption of chemical warfare agents through the skin when SERPACWA is applied prior to exposure.

Clinical Results

SERPACWA was not tested for protection against chemical warfare agents in humans.

One clinical study was conducted to evaluate SERPACWA's effectiveness in the reduction of the severity of dermatitis associated with continuous contact with urushiol (poison ivy resin) in 50 healthy volunteers with history of sensitivity to urushiol. Not all treated individuals were completely protected from the reaction, and the development of dermatitis varied among test subjects. However, results indicated that SERPACWA-treated skin sites exhibited fewer effects of dermatitis due to the urushiol than did the untreated sites.

Another study was performed to determine whether perspiration prevented the effectiveness of the product. SERPACWA was applied to certain sites of the skin of 37 normal volunteers. The participants were then exposed to conditions which promoted active perspiration. Finally, the participants were exposed to the dermal irritant/vasodilator methyl nicotinate for 2 minutes. Results showed that there was substantially less cutaneous vasodilation at the treated sites than at the non-treated sites. Again, the effects were variable among participants and not all individuals were completely protected from the irritant.

Side Effects

  • SERPACWA is intended for external use only
  • Fumes from the PTFE component of SERPACWA are harmful and can cause polymer fume fever, a flu-like syndrome whose long-term effects have not yet been determined. Do not handle cigarettes or any other smoking products if you have been exposed to even a small amount of SERPACWA.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching or applying SERPACWA
  • Cease smoking and discard any potentially contaminated products
  • Clothing or other products exposed to SERPACWA (including SERPACWA packaging materials) should not be destroyed by burning
  • The presence of insect repellent containing DEET significantly reduces the effectiveness of SERPACWA. Remove any product containing DEET with a dry towel or cloth before applying SERPACWA.
  • Some camouflage pants may also reduce the barrier effects of SERPACWA.

In clinical studies SERPACWA was only left in place for a maximum of five hours. In studies, no adverse effects were associated with SERPACWA use.

Information for Personnel:

  • SERPACWA is to be applied in conjunction with and prior to the wearing of MOPP gear.
  • SERPACWA's ability to delay or reduce absorption of CWA after 5 hours from its application is unknown.
  • Very harmful fumes are generated from smoking/burning this product. Extreme caution should be exercised while handling smoking materials in the presence of SERPACWA.
  • Any interaction between SERPACWA and the skin decontaminating kit is still unknown. However, in animal testing, it has been shown that SERPACWA-like products used in conjunction with a skin decontaminating kit, is more effective than using the skin decontaminating kit alone.

After the product is applied, if exposure to CWA is confirmed or suspected, follow the appropriate protocol for decontamination.

Mechanism of Action

SERPACWA serves as a physical barrier that may reduce or delay exposure of skin to chemical warfare agents (CWA). SERPACWA has no other known action.

Literature References

Visit Mitretek Systems' overview of the Background on Chemical Warfare.