Thursday, August 21, 2014

WHO Update: Anecdotal Evidence On Experimental Ebola Drugs



# 8982


With the happy release today from Emory University Hospital of two Americans who were being treated for Ebola virus infection – both of whom received one of the few doses of ZMapp, an experimental monoclonal antibody cocktail – everyone is wondering just how much of an effect these drugs may have had on their outcome.

Today the World Health Organization has released some very preliminary, anecdotal evidence regarding its use in 5 cases; the two Americans and three healthcare workers in Liberia.

The good news . . . in addition to the two Americans that have recovered, all three Liberian HCWs are showing marked improvement. 

The bad news . . . that exhausts the supply of this drug, and it may take months before additional doses can be manufactured. 


While there are a handful of other investigational drugs out there, they are untested in humans, and are also in very short supply.  There are also serious logical and ethical challenges ahead in the distribution and use of any untested therapies (see WHO: Full Report Of Ethics Committee On Experimental Drugs For Ebola).



Anecdotal evidence about experimental therapies

Situation assessment - 21 August 2014

Clinicians working in Liberia have informed WHO that 2 doctors and 1 nurse have now received the experimental Ebola therapy, ZMapp.

The nurse and one of the doctors show a marked improvement. The condition of the second doctor is serious but has improved somewhat.

According to the manufacturer, the very limited supplies of this experimental medicine are now exhausted.

ZMapp is one of several experimental treatments and vaccines for Ebola that are currently undergoing investigation. At present, supplies of all are extremely limited.

On 4–5 September, WHO will host a consultation on potential Ebola therapies and vaccines in Geneva. The consultation has been convened to gather expertise about the most promising experimental therapies and vaccines and their role in containing the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.

The expertise among the more than 100 participants is wide, ranging from pharmaceutical research and the clinical demands of Ebola care, to expertise on ethical, legal, and regulatory issues. More than 20 experts from west Africa are expected to attend.

Issues of safety and efficacy will be discussed together with innovative models for expediting clinical trials. Possible ways to ramp up production of the most promising products will also be explored.

Presentations about the real conditions and challenges in affected African countries are intended to anchor all discussions and shape the consensus advice that is expected to emerge.

WHO media contacts:

Gregory Hartl
Telephone: +41 22 791 4458
Mobile: +41 79 203 6715

Fadéla Chaib
Telephone: + 41 22 791 3228
Mobile:+ 41 79 475 55 56



For more on ZMapp you may wish to revisit CDC FAQ On Experimental Ebola Treatments & Vaccine Development

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