Date
20 November 2017
The existing protective measures in Hong Kong against Ebola virus infection are adequate, says Yuen Kwok-yung (inset), chairman of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases. Photo: AFP, HKEJ
The existing protective measures in Hong Kong against Ebola virus infection are adequate, says Yuen Kwok-yung (inset), chairman of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases. Photo: AFP, HKEJ

Hong Kong may use cancer, infertility drugs to fight Ebola virus

Hong Kong may use clomiphene, a drug to cure infertility, and toremifene, a breast-cancer drug, to inhibit Ebola virus infection once a case is reported, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Wednesday.

The contingency plan came after a discussion of the deadly pandemic by the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases under the Center for Health Protection.

Committee chairman Yuen Kwok-yung said that Hong Kong has no access to any preventive vaccines or prescriptive drugs against the virus for the moment but the existing protective measures are adequate.

The proposed medical treatments are still at an experimental stage but they are proven to be effective in test tube and mice experiments, Yuen said. They are safe for human use even in high doses.

The proposed treatments would only cause minor side effects, such as nausea and dizziness.

It may only take about a week to know whether the treatments increased the chances of survival of patients, Yuen said.

Patients’ consent would be needed for such treatments and the medical ethics committee would have to approve any adoption of the contingency measures.

As of last Wednesday, a total of 2,127 cases of infection have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, causing 1,145 deaths or a mortality rate of 54 percent, according to the Center for Health Protection.

Experimental results on mice show there is a survival rate of 90 percent using clomiphene and 50 percent using toremifene, said William Chui Chun-ming, the president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong.

However, clomiphene cannot be used in patients with any liver disease while toremifene can affect liver enzymes, and both drugs could lead to cardiac arrhythmia.

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Freelance journalist

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