News / Health

Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Carol Pearson

Without specific drugs or a vaccine for Ebola, the only thing doctors can do for those suffering from this disease is treat their symptoms and hope their bodies can fight the virus.  Ebola is killing at least half of those who get it.  So far, it has claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people.

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa.  Zmapp, one of those drugs, have been given to six people: three Westerners and now, three African doctors.  One of the Westerners, a Catholic priest who was working in Liberia, has died.  Reports say the other five are improving.  It's still not known if the drug has helped.

Mapp Biopharmaceutical, the company that produced the drug, says all the available supplies are now exhausted.

Also available - about 1,000 doses of an experimental vaccine,  which may be used in West Africa.  Neither of these treatments has been tested on human beings.

In a Skype interview with VOA, Dr. Robert Klitzman, one of the co-founders of the Center for Bioethics at Columbia University in New York, said using these drugs raises ethical issues.  "Does it work? What should we tell people?  What if it makes people worse?  We want to make sure people understand that there are risks involved.  If we have a limited supply, we need to decide who should get the vaccine or medication and who should not."

Dr. Klitzman said in some sub-Saharan African languages, there's a word for "cure," but nothing that translates the word "experimental."  He says anyone who receives an experimental drug has to be told it might not cure them, and if it might make the situation worse.

Dr. Chandrakant Ruparelia is an infectious disease prevention expert at Jhpiego, an organization that trains health care workers in Liberia.  He said even if there were a large supply of these treatments, an untested drug has to be monitored. “That’s an experimental medication still," he said and that "It cannot be used on a large scale for every patient."

Dr. Klitzman says he agrees.  "We need to give it in a controlled way where we can see who got it, what happened, does it work, does it make them worse?"

Other vaccines and treatments are being developed, but are not likely to be used to treat Ebola patients, even in an experimental form, at least not for this unprecedented outbreak.

 

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: raph from: cameroon
August 25, 2014 3:28 AM
Why not come back to God with fasting and prayer both Christians Muslims everyone included since I believe this ebola is not natural bcse its only God that will bring solution to this threat
may God help us

by: John
August 20, 2014 5:15 AM
Given the flourishing Boko Haram insurrection against polio vaccination, and the riots claiming that ebola doesn't exist or is produced by the whites, I do wonder how the Africans will react to being given these experimental drugs. My guess would be that they will blame the whites for experimenting on them, they will blame the whites for not having enough drugs to experiment on them all, they will blame the whites for those the drugs injure or kill, and, when a drug cures someone, they will blame the whites for not giving it to everyone sooner. Since they'll be getting the drugs for free, at least they can't blame the whites for making them pay.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More