WHO panel to debate ZMapp, ethics of experimental Ebola treatments
- The World Health Organization (WHO) is convening a panel on Monday to discuss the ethics of administering experimental treatments such as San Diego, CA-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical's Ebola drug ZMapp during times of crisis.
- The panel will debate issues including whether or not use of unproven drugs should be allowed during these times, and if so, what is the proper process for determining who should get to use them. ZMapp has already been used on two American citizens infected with Ebola, and will also be used to treat a Spanish priest in Europe.
- The panel will include scientists, medical ethicists, and laypeople from the affected regions.
The WHO, which has already declared an international public health emergency over the Ebola outbreak, is aiming to set up best practices for the use of experimental drugs during deadly epidemics. The process so far has largely been an ad hoc one.
"The recent treatment of two health workers infected with the Ebola virus with experimental medicine [ZMapp] has raised questions about whether medicine that has never been tested and shown to be safe in people should be used in the outbreak, and, given the extremely limited amount of medicine available, if it is used, who should receive it," said the WHO in a statement on its website.
The two Americans who have been treated with ZMapp appear to be improving. Still, concerns remain about the drug's long-term effects. The Obama administration has also announced that it plans to convene a working group to discuss the same ethical issues as the WHO.
- World Health Organization Panel discussion on ethical considerations for use of unregistered interventions for Ebola viral disease