Tekmira (TKMR) Approached by Sierra Leone About Getting Access to Its Drug

Developers of unproven treatments or vaccines for the deadly Ebola virus that include Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corp. (TKMR), BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc. (BCRX), and Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) have received backing from the World Health Organization [WHO] to offer interventions as potential treatment or prevention for the Ebola virus which has killed more than 1,000 people in four West African nations.

“In the particular circumstances of this outbreak, and provided certain conditions are met, the panel reached consensus that it is ethical to offer unproven interventions with as yet unknown efficacy and adverse effects as potential treatment or prevention,” the WHO said in a statement today. The Geneva-based health agency noted however, that the use of unproven drugs should be guided by criteria such as informed consent, freedom of choice, confidentiality, preservation of dignity and involvement of the community.

While there are no approved drugs or vaccines against Ebola, U.S. regulators last week said that a treatment by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals could be tested in infected patients. In a Bloomberg telephone interview, Sierra Leone’s chief medical officer, Brima Kargbo, said he has approached Tekmira about getting access to its product. Meanwhile, Nigeria and Liberia have already requested access to Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc, whose experimental antibody ZMapp therapy has been used to treat two American aid workers who were infected in Liberia. Mapp Biopharmaceutical however, said yesterday it’s exhausted its supply, adding that it provided the drug at no cost.

Mapp’s disclosure underscores that ZMapp and other experimental drugs are in such short supply that unfortunately the overwhelming number of Ebola victims have no hope of ever receiving them.

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