Health experts say that given Ebola's high mortality rate, it's appropriate to offer experiemental treatments to those at risk of contracting the disease.
UNITED NATIONS – The World Health Organization approved five experimental Ebola treatments for use in an ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Wednesday, clearing the way for those at risk of contracting the virus to receive potentially life-saving treatments.
A panel of medical experts determined that Ebola’s high fatality rates merited bypassing the normally strict system of clinical trials required before drugs are cleared for public use.
According to a WHO statement, the medical panel concluded that, “in the context of an outbreak characterized by high mortality, it can be ethically appropriate to offer individual patients investigational interventions on an emergency basis outside clinical trials.”
In order to obtain experimental Ebola drugs, patients will need to provide informed consent to their treatment – a process that requires patients understand the risks of a given treatment, the
risks of avoiding treatment, have time to discuss treatment options with their families and the chance to ask questions of their doctors.
The World Health Organization first drew up guidelines for the use of unregistered drugs in outbreaks two years ago, after a deadly 2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, during which a number of experimental vaccines and drugs were discovered.
The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has infected 56 people and killed 25.