Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ebola outbreak and experimental medicine

A devastating Ebola virus is raging in Africa. More than 1,000 people were killed by the outbreak, suffering more.

Time: 1,400 Are Dead From Ebola and We Need Help, Says Doctors Without Borders President

Many medical practitioners are included in the patients. Obviously they are at high risk of infection. There is no adequate instrument to protect them from secondary infection in many hospitals in the region where the virus is spread. As a result, some hospitals reject the suspicious patients.

The Guardian: Ebola: Why Lagos Hospitals Reject Suspected Patients

Recently, two American doctors survived Ebola symptoms with an experimental medicine. Zmapp is a developing solution against Ebola virus, but yet to be examined in clinical trials. It was utilized in serious cases, which became extremely successful in a few cases.

Premium Times: Ebola: American doctor treated with Zmapp recovers, discharged from hospital

However, it contains several issues. Firstly, is it justified to use experimental medicines in this case? Maybe yes, I think, but there are numerous patients waiting for an innovative treatment for other diseases. Why cannot they receive potential drugs?

Secondly, I heard that some patients given ZMapp died. It is uncertain whether Ebola or ZMapp robbed them of their lives. We have no enough evidence of adverse effects of Zmapp.

Thirdly, who should take the treatment the first? The answer was suspended by WHO, though it has approved the use of it for an emergency resolution as ethical.

The Huffington Post: The Ethics of the Ebola Outbreak: Who Should Receive Experimental Treatment?

Ebola itself is not a new virus. However, there has been no decisive treatment against it. One of the reasons for the difficulty of developing treatment is that viruses are hardly treated with antibiotic drugs or similar methods. In addition, Ebola is not so frequently spreading, compared to Malaria, that drug companies cannot gain adequate profit to compensate for the cost of the development.

Infectious diseases are less dangerous now than in the past. Nevertheless, there are several deadly viruses which human has not overcome yet. Rapid and effective treatments are requested.


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