Prescription drugs are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. There is a lengthy process that drugs must go through before being approved for use on human patients. The usual process takes years. And even when drug makers go through that process, sometimes drugs are unsafe and can wind up causing serious injuries or death. However, the FDA is going to allow a North Carolina drug manufacturer to test its experimental drug in Ebola patients.
Pharmaceutical Company’s Plans to Test Drugs on Ebola Patients
U.S. News & World Report reports that a drug company called Chimerix Inc. received FDA approval to proceed with a trial involving their drug called brincidofovir. The drug, an antiviral tablet, will be tested on patients who are currently infected with the Ebola virus. The FDA already allowed the drug to be administered to the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, who passed away last week.This drug is not only being developed to fight Ebola. It could also eventually be used to treat a virus that infects patients who are undergoing bone marrow transplants. The Department of Defense has been working with Chimerix to determine whether this drug could be an effective treatment for the small pox virus as well.
Not the Only Experimental Drug Used on Ebola Patients
USA Today reports that other experimental drugs have already been used on Ebola patients. Mapp Pharmaceuticals created a drug called ZMapp specifically as an Ebola treatment. Currently all supplies of these drug have been used, but work is underway to produce more of the drug. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Health and Human Services have all provided support for the development of ZMapp.
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, a Canadian company, has developed the TKM-Ebola injection. This drug is also in limited supply but it has been used on one patient. It works by blocking genes that assist in the reproduction of the Ebola virus in a patient’s body.
While these experimental drugs are currently being used, there is no FDA-approved vaccine or medicine available to treat Ebola. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms of Ebola are treated as they appear, and some basic interventions can increase a patient’s chance at survival. These interventions include:
1. Providing intravenous fluids and balancing electrolytes 2. Maintaining oxygen status and blood pressure 3. Treating other infections if they occur.
Ultimately, some patients will not survive even if all of these measures are taken in a timely fashion. The patient’s immune response to the disease will determine the outcome of the treatment. It is entirely possible that one or more of these experimental drugs could ultimately save lives not only in the United States, but in other countries that have been hit much more severely by Ebola. But it is extremely important that every precaution is taken to insure that these drugs do not make a patient’s chances of survival even worse than what they may be without the drugs.
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