WHO Panel Says Unproven Drugs Are Ethical As Ebola Death Toll Tops 1,000

A CNN story reported: “The first two doses of an experimental serum created to treat Ebola went to American missionaries.Then the drug was sent to treat a Spanish priest.The two Americans, Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, appear to be recovering. The priest, Miguel Pajares, died Tuesday morning.That’s the problem with experimental drugs that have never been clinically tested in humans: No one knows whether they’ll work — and if they do, in whom.”

“This week, the World Health Organization gathered a group of ethicists to decide whether proven medications and vaccines should be used in the current Ebola outbreak. As the death toll from the epidemic soared over 1,000, the WHO panel unanimously concluded that it is ethical to offer medications to fight the Ebola virus, even if their effectiveness or adverse effects are unknown.”

“The difference between this outbreak and other Ebola outbreaks is that traditional methods of stopping the virus from spreading — protective gear, contact tracing, etc. — don’t seem to be working fast enough, said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s assistant director-general. The health care systems in the affected countries are also weak, so resources are scarce.”

“”If these treatments can save lives … should we not use them to save lives?” Kieny said the panel asked.”

“The gulf between developed and developing nations appeared to some to widen last week as reports emerged that the Ebola drug was being used to treat Westerners but not West Africans.”

Click here to read the full CNN story “WHO panel says unproven drugs are ethical as Ebola death toll tops 1,000″ by Stephanie Smith, Holly Yan and Jacque Wilson.

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Doctor, Did You Wash Your Hands? ™ provides information to consumers on understanding, managing and navigating health care options.

Jonathan M. Metsch, Dr.P.H., is Clinical Professor, Preventive Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; and Adjunct Professor, Baruch College ( C.U.N.Y.), Rutgers School of Public Health, and Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration.

This blog shares general information about understanding and navigating the health care system. For specific medical advice about your own problems, issues and options talk to your personal physician.

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