Date
17 August 2017
The World Health Organization is convening a panel of experts to decide whether experimental drugs should be used in the Ebola outbreak and who gets priority. Photo: WHO
The World Health Organization is convening a panel of experts to decide whether experimental drugs should be used in the Ebola outbreak and who gets priority. Photo: WHO

New Ebola drugs stir ethics debate

Medical experts are debating how best to use a limited supply of promising experimental drugs in the fight against an Ebola outbreak that has killed almost 1,000 people.

They warned the virus could spread from west Africa, the epicenter of the epidemic, to other parts of the world.

The warning came as scientists and doctors in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong have isolated and tested travelers with Ebola-like symptoms before they were found negative for the deadly virus, Bloomberg reported Monday.

The World Health Organization is convening a panel of ethicists to determine whether drugs that have not been widely tested for safety should be used in an outbreak in which more than 40 percent of infected people survive.

The panel members must address who gets the medicines which so far only exist in small amounts.

Last week, US regulators said a treatment by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. could be tested in infected patients while a drug by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. has already been used to treat two Americans infected in Liberia.

The two Americans are improving but it remains unclear if the drug helped, the report said.

There is no cure for Ebola which is normally treated by keeping patients hydrated, replacing lost blood and using antibiotics to fight off opportunistic infections.

It’s left to the patient’s immune system to eventually fight off the aggressive virus.

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RA

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