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Ebola Virus Outbreak

Ethicists Will Wrestle With Who Should Get Experimental Ebola Drugs

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Medical ethicists will get together to talk about a sensitive question arising from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa: Who should have access to extremely limited supplies of experimental medicine?

Two American aid workers who contracted Ebola got better after they were given an experimental drug, which was never before tried on humans. But the manufacturer has said it can’t make large quantities of the drug, although others are in development. There is no certified vaccine or cure for Ebola. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that it will convene the ethicists next week.

"We are in an unusual situation in this outbreak," Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, a WHO official, said in a statement. "We need to ask the medical ethicists to give us guidance on what the responsible thing to do is." The WHO said that the guiding principle for any new medicine is "do no harm."

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