San Diego, CA, United States (4E) – The U.S. maker of an experimental Ebola drug administered on only three infected people have sent doses to West Africa amid the World Health Organization’s (WHO) approval of its use and demand by African officials.
San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., which developed the drug called ZMapp, said Monday the drug was provided for free and the company is asking permission from U.S. authorities to produce more of it.
Mapp did not say what countries are getting the ZMapp. However, sources at the office of Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Doctors Abraham Borbor and Philip Ireland of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Sinkor, would be the next patients to receive ZMapp after American missionaries Dr. Kent Bradly and Nancy Writebol and Spanish priest Father Miguel Pajares.
Sirleaf on Friday requested President Barack Obama to allow the use of the Ebola drug and her office said Monday that the White House and U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved her request.
In Geneva, Switzerland, a panel of WHO medical experts met on Tuesday and agreed to the use of experimental Ebola drugs to contain the outbreak of the deadly disease in West Africa. The panel said in a press conference that it is ethical to use untested drugs under certain conditions, including consent from the patient.
United Nations Undersecretary and WHO Executive Director Dr. Margaret Chan also authorized the dispatch of the doses of the experimental Ebola drug to Liberia for the treatment of two infected doctors.
The WHO has declared the Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone as a global health emergency as more than 1,000 people have died from the virus since March. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to cure Ebola infection, but other companies are also developing one, like Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp., Fujifilm Holdings Corp., BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Sarepta Therapeutics Inc.
Sierra Leone officials also asked Mapp and Tekmira for Ebola drugs, the country’s Chief Medical Officer, Brima Kargbo, said in a telephone interview, according to Bloomberg.
Ebola is spread through contact with bodily fluids of infected people. Symptoms appear within 20 days such as vomiting, diarrhea, joint pains. The fatality rate is 50 percent but patients can survive if treated early through antibiotics, hydration and replacement of lost blood.