14 August 2014

Liberia: Zmapp Arrives - Liberia Gets Test Drug for Two Doctors

Photo: Boakai Fofana/AllAfrica
Doctors in full protective gear interview the driver of a bus that brought in a very ill patient before refusing them admittance.

Monrovia — The government of Liberia has received first three doses of the Drug Z-Mapp, which was brought into the country on Wednesday evening via a Delta Airline Flight accompanied by Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan.

The drug is to be administered to two Liberian doctors Dr. Abraham Borbor and Dr. Zokonis Ireland currently in isolation center at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital after contracting the deadly Ebola virus.

Tolbert Nyenswah, Assistant Health Minister for curative services at the ministry of health receiving the drug said that it is currently in an experimental stage and will require the consent of the two doctors for it to be administered to them.

"Our government negotiated with a private company, with the approval of the FDA for the United States to see how these drugs that have just arrived, can be given to patients here in Liberia as an experimental treatment for the Ebola virus disease," Tolbert Nyenswah, Assistant Health Minister for Curative Services

"You also know about the outbreak that we are battling right now, but for sure this is not the panacea of the problem to see these couple of doses that have just arrived They were brought into the country grateful to our foreign Minister who has brought this on the aircraft that we just came here to see."

"You can see them, they are sealed up in the boxes, the temperature control is maintained. We've already at the ELWA hospital put in freezers that will maintain the cold-chain of these medications, so that they are administered to critical staff."

"It is at the risk of the patient, not the government of Liberia, not the ministry of social welfare, nor the pharmaceutical company will be held liable because you know these are trial medication that have not gone through the efficacy of level three clinical trials."

Also speaking during the arrival of the drug, Dr. Moses Massaquoi told reporters that the government is exploring all options as well as negotiating with other foreign pharmaceutical firms, including the Canadian company that produces a drug called Tekmira, to help Liberia in its fight against the deadly disease by supplying those drugs to Liberia.

"It's enough for three patients and its negotiation ongoing and it's nine courses, three courses per patient. It is just enough for three patients. The Canadian drug, which is Tekmira is being negotiated as we speak. The process is ongoing," he said.

The government earlier somersaulted on claims that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called up U.S. President Barack Obama and that he authorized the dispatch of the experimental drug to help treat the two doctors. The World Health Organization (WHO), also denied earlier reports that it had authorized the use of ZMapp, the experimental Ebola drug, in Liberia, the report added.

"We were not involved in transferring the serum and we will not be involved in any future transfers of it," Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman, said according to the Associated Press. "WHO doesn't have any role in handing out the serum or any other experimental medicines."

ZMapp is made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., a San Diego firm, was never tested on humans before the current Ebola outbreak. The first people to receive the drug were the two American Doctors Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol who worked for aid organization Samaritan's Purse and also a Spanish Priest Miguel Pajares who died on Tuesday.

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