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Ebola Virus Outbreak

Dallas Ebola Patient Gets Experimental Drug

Family of NBC News Freelancer Diagnosed With Ebola Speaks Out 3:12

The patient in Dallas being treated for Ebola has been given an experimental drug but remains in critical condition, the hospital said Monday. Thomas Eric Duncan got a drug called brincidofovir, made by North Carolina-based Chimerix. The Food and Drug Administration approved its experimental use Monday against Ebola.

It's a pill given twice a week, and it's been tested safely already in more than 1,000 people, Chimerix spokesman Joseph Schepers told NBC News. He said Duncan's doctors asked the company for the drug.

An NBC News freelancer receiving treatment in Nebraska will also receive an experimental treatment, according to his father, Dr. Mitchell Levy. He did not specify which treatment.

Doctors stress that they have no idea whether experimental drugs can help Ebola patients. They say supportive care like oxygen and saline solution are as important, if not more important, for their survival. Brincidofovir is a a slight alteration of the existing drug cidofovir, which is used to treat and to prevent an infection called cytomegalovirus. It's also being tested in people for use against serious adenovirus infections.

Other experimental drugs include one made by Tekmira, a Canadian company that had begun testing it in people before some safety concerns made the FDA halt testing. ZMapp, made by California-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, is grown in tobacco plants. It was given to Ebola survivors Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol. Brantly also got a blood transfusion from another survivor, and he gave blood to be transfused into fellow medical missionary Dr. Rick Sacra. A Japanese company makes a flu drug called favipiravir, or T-705, that appears to also help mice infected with Ebola, while North Carolina based BioCryst is making a drug called BCX4430.

IN-DEPTH

-Maggie Fox