Experimental drug 'likely saved' first two Americans with Ebola



Well, as long as the Americans are OK.

1 Like

I’ll tell you one American who isn’t ok - The Donald.
He’ll be pissed about this.

It would actually be interesting to know what the motives are in terms of the scale of the test: the Americans are certainly a higher-profile PR win, if it works; but also a higher profile failure if they die.

If you want as much data as possible, you’d think that they’d be experimenting while the conditions are available(you aren’t exactly going to get volunteers unless there is an active outbreak and some people who are going to die without it). If you wanted to avoid a distasteful revelation of your high-handed treatment of test subjects in far off places, you might avoid people that you can’t get a nice, shiny, informed consent form from.

Today’s Ars article on this also makes for good reading. Nothing in concocting this treatment is “new” (just very well done, with some big cash behind it), and so we get another glimpse at how rapidly this science is maturing.


I disagree. Some people in other countries other than the States see all this experimental drug matter as “The Americans had a cure for Ebola but didn’t care to use it until two of their citizens got infected”.

So, to me, its a PR fail-fail situation.


Is there a drug to remind people the sky is not falling, yet?

The way I see it both those options are potentially bad PR, but in one option you can say 90% of the patients were going to die if we didn’t try it and in the other you sheepishly say something about clear cut informed consent. Given those options, you should take the one that potentially saves the most lives - it has the nice bonus of being way more defensible in PR terms.

1 Like

Or get branded as unethical or racist for using Africans as guinea pigs … even if it works. With a couple of Americans acting as the first test subjects, the researchers are immunized (pun intended) against future allegations.


Oh, I’d definitely be in favor of it; but given that they either aren’t taking advantage of an excellent chance to do some human trials (or are doing so very quietly), it seems worth trying to imagine why not. The only options I can think of are either that the drug simply isn’t available in the necessary quantity on short notice (not terribly implausible for a novel monoclonal antibody) or that the potential flack is considered prohibitive.

1 Like

They’re going to get branded as unethical and/or racist either way. Having a couple of Americans act as test subjects first, and then doing wider trials with the local patients isn’t going to help any more than including the same Americans in a wider trial right off the bat. All it does is open them up to additional accusations of racism in giving the Americans preferential treatment (pun initially unintended).
So something else has to be in play, like @fuzzyfungus’ suggestion of not enough of the drug or maybe they’re choosing which PR angle keeps the most people/organisations/governments on side so they can get wider trials going.


It’s not unethical and racist until we learn that America is billing the uninsured Africans for the treatment, and that the current Ebola outbreak was started by the CIA in the first place. Offering free experimental treatment is ethical when there is no alternative treatment available.

The unethical practice is to find people who can’t afford an established, effective treatment, and then to offer them an experimental treatment for free. Since the subject to that experiment couldn’t afford the established treatment, an experimental protocol that might work is still improving his situation.

1 Like

CNN reports that an experimental treatment
for Ebola known as ZMapp was “flown into Liberia last week in a
last-ditch effort to save two American missionary workers who had
contracted Ebola.” So far, it has worked: both are still alive.

So if you have two people are sick, you give them an experimental treatment, and then they get better, that proves the experimental treatment works.

Post hoc is the new black.

1 Like

According to the [press release][1] (on fancy USAMRIID virtual letterhead):

"MB-003 was developed through a decade-long collaborative effort between private industry and the U.S. government, with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). "

That may or may not make finding test subjects who don’t think it’s a CIA conspiracy harder; but having something available for that outbreak of ebola that doesn’t just burn out before spreading has been a US interest for some time.
[1]: http://www.mappbio.com/PettittAug2013.pdf

1 Like

No: You also have to keep quiet about all the people whom you gave the treatment to, and who later succumbed.

Yes the rational line of action for Guinea and Sierra Leone is to load as many infected people as possible onto planes into London, Frankfurt, New York, Los Angeles and Washington DC, so that that it becomes economically viable to start manufacturing and distributing the cure.

That’s the sociopathic strategy, yes.

Desperate situations ask for desperate measures.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.