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Trial drug use sparks controversy

7 Aug, 2014

The World Health Organisation announces it is convening a special meeting next week to explore using experimental drugs in the West African outbreak, after two health workers from the US charity Samaritan’s Purse are treated with a drug called ZMapp. The decision to use an experimental drug to treat two Americans infected with Ebola, while nearly 1 000 Africans have already died from the deadly epidemic, has sparked controversy, but US experts say it is ethically justified.

The experimental drug is still in an extremely early phase of development and had only been tested previously on monkeys. It has never been produced on a large scale. There is no proven treatment or cure for Ebola. Samaritan’s Purse members Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, however, have shown improvements since taking the drug.