Friday, August 8, 2014

In Ebola Outbreak, Who Should Get Experimental Drug?

 

Some have said it is wrong that with hundreds of Africans dying from the outbreak of Ebola, extremely scarce supplies of an experimental drug went to two white American aid workers.

But what if the first doses of the drug — which had never been used in people and had not even finished the typical animal safety testing — had been given to African patients instead?

“It would have been the front-page screaming headline: ‘Africans used as guinea pigs for American drug company’s medicine,' ” said Dr. Salim S. Abdool Karim, director of Caprisa, an AIDS research center in South Africa.

A history of controversy about drug testing in Africa is just one of the complexities facing public health authorities as they wrestle with whether and how to bring that drug and possibly other experimental ones to the countries afflicted with Ebola. Who should get such a scarce supply of medicine? Health workers? Children? The newly infected who are not yet as sick?

The World Health Organization is convening a meeting of ethicists early next week to discuss this sensitive and difficult dilemma. The United States government is also forming a group to consider the same issues, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

For the rest of the story: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/09/health/in-ebola-outbreak-who-should-get-experimental-drug.html?_r=1

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