Is it Ethical to Use Unproven Ebola Drugs?

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Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The Ebola drug given to two Americans and a Spanish priest has been sent to treat infected doctors in two West African countries, and the supply of the medicine is now gone, its manufacturer said. Shannon Pettypiece has more on "Street Smart." (Source: Bloomberg)

Should decide who gets treated first?

Here to discuss, bloomberg health reporter shannon pettypiece.

Is it the right thing to do?

Is it ethical to use these treatments before they have been proven in terms of their effectiveness?

If someone has the ebola virus and there is no known real approved vaccine, want to try everything you can?

This is very experimental.

We only have the monkey studies.

They were given the ebola virus before they were given this.

We do not have data for anyone that has been exposed to this for a long time.

What's the worst that could happen?

It is a very small survival rate but there is the potential you could give something dangerous to people who would have survived and been healthy on their own.

There is this cost benefit analysis that you have to weigh and that is why the who convened the panel to talk about this and they reached the conclusion that they should give it to people.

As you said, who should you give it to?

It is a limited supply.

They are running out.

How do you decide all of that?

One suggestion a lot of people are making is to give it to health care workers or people who can make an informed consent decision.

You have to give it to people who can say yes, i understand what i'm signing up for and i consent.

There have been cases in the past where pharmaceutical companies use experimental drugs in africa, the high-profile case where pfizer gave drugs or meningitis, and they ended up suing and blaming them for side effects.

It's kind of unclear whether the drug ever cause the side effects, but you have to tread carefully when you are talking about giving an experimental drug in developing countries.

One suggestion is to give it to health care workers because they can make that informed consent decision.

The other question is, and the answer has not been determined, but do you give it two old people are young people?

Just as they have been infected or the sickest people?

Anytime you deal with someone's health and their life it becomes challenging and difficult as these questions arise.

Give us the latest on the two americans.

The health is improving but we don't know if that's because the treatment they've gotten in atlanta or the drugs.

That will be the big thing to watch.

We will see whether the drug had anything to do with it.

Shannon pettypiece, thank you

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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