Efforts to treat, contain Ebola virus trigger policy, ethical questions

A push to fast-track an experimental treatment is gaining momentum, but questions persist about this serum's effectiveness, whether the drug should be brought to the places currently confronting outbreaks of the disease and who should have access to its limited supplies.

The New York Times: Ebola Drug Could Save A Few Lives. But Whose?
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? There are virtually no remaining supplies of the drug, called ZMapp, that was used to treat the two Americans, United States officials say. And even a few months from now, according to various estimates, there may be no more than a few hundred doses (Pollack, 8/8).

The Hill: Obama's Ebola Dilemma
The Obama administration is grappling with ethical questions over its response to an increasingly dire outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. At the center of the debate is an experimental treatment given to two American Ebola patients that was facilitated in part by a U.S. government health worker. Calls are rising for health agencies to fast-track approval of the drug for use by African patients. But President Obama said that move would be "premature" given questions about the serum's effectiveness (Viebeck, 8/9).

The New York Times: Fighting Deadly Diseases Without Breaking A Sweat
The diversity of infectious ailments in the city was part of what drew Dr. Phillips to New York. As a young epidemiologist, he dreamed of battling tuberculosis in Eastern Europe. Then he met Dr. Marcelle Layton, a city health official. She persuaded him to instead battle communicable diseases in the city as an epidemic intelligence service officer for the Centers for Disease Control assigned to the health department in 2000. "I get to eastern Brooklyn," Dr. Phillips said. "It's just as good." Over the years, he has learned to expect the unexpected (Swarns, 8/10).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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