Breaking News Bar
updated: 8/11/2014 9:08 PM

Remainder of Ebola drug headed to Africa

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Health worker wearing protective clothing and equipment, await patients to screen against the deadly Ebola virus at the Kenema Government Hospital situated in the Eastern Province in Kenema, 186 miles from the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

      Health worker wearing protective clothing and equipment, await patients to screen against the deadly Ebola virus at the Kenema Government Hospital situated in the Eastern Province in Kenema, 186 miles from the capital city of Freetown, Sierra Leone.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS

 
Associated Press

MONROVIA, Liberia -- The Liberian government said Monday it will receive all the remaining doses of an experimental Ebola drug to treat doctors in the West African country.

The U.S. government confirmed it had put Liberian officials in touch with the maker of ZMapp, though the drug's supply was limted and Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. confirmed there would be no more made for the time being.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

Thus far, two Americans and a Spaniard have received the drug.

The U.N. health agency said Monday that 1,013 people have died in the outbreak, which has hit Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and possibly Nigeria.

Authorities have recorded 1,848 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of the disease, which causes a high fever, vomiting and bleeding. The outbreak was first identified in March in Guinea, but it likely started months earlier.

The updated WHO tally includes figures from Aug. 7- 9 when 52 more people died and 69 more were infected.

Ebola is highly lethal and there is no licensed vaccine or treatment for the disease, but so far three people infected have received an experimental drug.

Until Monday's news that the remainder of the drug would go to Africa, many Africans were seeing a larger, bitter truth that their lives did not seem to matter as much as two Americans and the Spaniard who received the treatment first.

"There's no reason to try this medicine on sick white people and to ignore blacks," said Marcel Guilavogui, a pharmacist in Conakry, Guinea. "We understand that it's a drug that's being tested for the first time and that could have negative side effects. But we have to try it in blacks too."

Some used Twitter to demand that the drug be made available in Africa.

"We can't afford to be passive while many more die," said Aisha Dabo, a Senegalese-Gambian journalist who was tweeting using the hashtag "GiveUsTheSerum"on Monday. "That's why we raise our voice for the world to hear us."

The ethical dilemmas involved prompted the U.N. health agency to consult Monday with ethicists, infectious disease experts, patient representatives and the Doctors Without Borders group. Most participants in the closed teleconference were from developed countries, but Uganda and Senegal had people in the meeting.

The World Health Organization said it would describe the results of the discussion at a news conference Tuesday.

"It certainly looks bad that only three Westerners have gotten the drug while most of the people with Ebola are African," said Art Caplan, director of bioethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, who was not involved in Monday's consults.

Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., is a small, San Diego-based company.

Companies can provide experimental drugs on a "compassionate use" basis, usually after they have been fully tested in humans. The Food and Drug Administration approves such uses in the U.S., but has no authority overseas.

Ultimately, the companies alone decide whether or not to share their products.

Spain's Health Ministry said it obtained ZMapp this weekend with company permission to treat Miguel Pajares, a 75-year-old priest evacuated from Liberia and placed in isolation Thursday at Madrid's Carlos III Hospital.

"The medicine was imported from Geneva where there was one dose available in the context of an accord between the laboratory that developed the medicine, WHO and (Doctors Without Borders)," the ministry said, invoking a Spanish law permitting unauthorized medication for patients with life-threatening illnesses.

Spanish authorities refused to comment beyond the ministry's statement, but Geneva University Hospital told The Associated Press it was involved in getting the drug to Madrid.

The evacuated Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, have been improving at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital. They got the treatment after Samaritan's Purse asked Kentucky BioProcessing, which produces it for Mapp Biopharmaceutical.

Mapp Pharmaceutical says on its website that "very little of the drug is currently available" and that it is working with government agencies to increase production as quickly as possible.

The treatment mixes three antibodies engineered to recognize Ebola and bind to infected cells so the immune system can kill them.

Absent a known cure or licensed treatment, Ebola keeps killing more than half of the people it has sickened since it emerged in Guinea in March and spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and possibly Nigeria.

A Sierra Leone official said they had not asked for the drug, but the other governments said they want any treatment that might help patients recover, despite the risks of unproven medicines.

"The alternative for not testing this is death, a certain death," Liberia's information minister, Lewis Brown, told The AP in an interview.

Guinea said Monday it wants some, too.

In other Ebola developments Monday:

• An African nun who worked with the infected Spanish priest died from Ebola in Liberia, their Catholic aid group said.

• A nurse who treated Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian-American who flew into Nigeria and died last month, also died of Ebola, Nigerian health authorities said, raising the number of locally confirmed Ebola cases to 10. Nigeria is monitoring 177 contacts of Sawyer to contain the outbreak. The WHO has yet to confirm any Ebola cases in Nigeria.

• Liberia announced that a donation of protective gear from China was arriving Monday. A shortage of full-body suits and even clean surgical gloves has left health workers exposed to the virus and prompted some to refuse to treat Ebola patients. Soldiers enforced a quarantine of two counties in "Operation White Shield."

• Ivory Coast, which shares borders with Liberia and Guinea, banned direct flights from the infected countries and said it would increase health inspections and enforcement of its borders, but stopped short of closing them entirely.

• George Weah, a Liberian former FIFA world player of the year, joined awareness efforts by recording a song titled "Ebola is real," with proceeds going to the Liberian Health Ministry.

Share this page
  • This article filed under:
  • News
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here