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WHO backs use of experimental Ebola drugs

Published on Aug 12, 2014 8:01 PM
A man has his temperature taken using an infrared digital laser thermometer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Aug 11, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (REUTERS) – It is ethical to offer unproven drugs or vaccines to people infected or at risk in West Africa’s deadly Ebola outbreak, a World Health Organisation (WHO) panel of medical ethics experts ruled on Tuesday, but cautioned supplies will be limited.

The panel said any provision of experimental Ebola medicines would require “informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, respect for the person, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community”.

The drugs should also be properly tested in the best possible clinical trials, it said. The West Africa Ebola virus epidemic – the world’s largest and most deadly so far – has killed at least 1,013 of the more than 1,848 people it has infected in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The WHO has declared it an international health emergency.

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