WHO Experts Give Nod to Using Untested Ebola Drugs

Move would be justified in 'particular circumstances' of current outbreak, ethicists say

TUESDAY, Aug. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A panel of ethicists specially appointed by the World Health Organization says it is ethical to give untested treatments to people battling Ebola in the current outbreak.

"In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects, as potential treatment or prevention," WHO said in a statement issued Tuesday.

One such drug, called ZMapp, is an antibody cocktail made by a small San Diego-based biotech firm. The two U.S. aid workers who received it have been evacuated to the United States and appear to be recovering, according to media reports. On Monday, Spain announced that it had obtained the drug for Miguel Pajares, a Spanish priest who caught Ebola while in Liberia. But Pajares, 75, died from Ebola on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. According to the AP, two more samples of the experimental drug are on their way to West Africa to help treat two Liberian doctors stricken with Ebola and should arrive within the next 48 hours.

While agreeing that untested drugs could be ethically used in the ongoing outbreak, the WHO panel did not specify who should get priority to receive them. Instead, they said that "more detailed analysis and discussion" are required to determine how to fairly distribute the limited supply of the drugs.

Full Article
More Information

Physician's Briefing