Experimental & Unlicensed Ebola Drug ZMapp, Being Shipped To Liberia
According to the latest World Health Organization’s (WHO) figures, the Ebola outbreak has so far claimed 1,013 lives and infected 1,848 people. Following a request made on Friday by the Liberia President Ellen Johnson to the United States President Barack Obama. An experimental drug dubbed ZMapp will be sent to Liberia to treat medical doctors who have fallen victim to the deadly virus.
This comes after the approval by both the White House and USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Liberian government has acknowledged that it is the recipient of the experimental drug, after ZMapp manufacturer, Mapp Biopharmaceutical made a statement earlier that its supplies were exhausted following its fulfilment of a request by a West African country (it restrained from naming the country) made an order for the ZMapp drug.
On Monday, WHO convened a meeting to discuss on the ethical implications of using an experimental drug in the fight against the Ebola virus. So far, there has not been any proven vaccine or treatment for the Ebola virus.
However, ZMapp has been administered to two American missionaries who were infected earlier last week. Both patients gave their consent, to be given the experimental drug, with full knowledge that the drug has never been tested on humans before. So far, their condition is said to be improving.
Also, Spanish priest named Miguel Pajares, who contracted the virus while working in Liberia, has also been given the ZMapp drug. This is according to a statement made on Saturday by Spain’s Ministry of Health. The experimental drug was sent from Geneva, Switzerland to Madrid where the priest is being treated at the Hospital Carlos lll in an isolation unit.
The treatment of the two American and the Spanish has raised many questions regarding the use of unlicensed and unproven drugs in the treatment of Ebola. Another question being raised is, why only these three Ebola victims that have been given the serum while so many in West Africa infected with the virus have not.
Medical professionals and scientists will on Monday hold a WHO teleconference to discuss on the use of unlicensed drugs in the fight against Ebola. One of the key issues they are expected to discuss is on the ethical implications of using an “unregistered interventions with unknown adverse effects,” and who should receive the drug treatment.
The recent Ebola outbreak was first reported in Guinea in March and has spread in an unprecedented rate leading to WHO declaring this Ebola outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern.”
Last Sunday, Ivory Coast restricted all flights to and from West Africa countries reported to have been affected by Ebola. Emirates, British Airways and pan-African airline ASKY have stopped flights from some West African countries.
For more information about the ZMapp drug, click here.