Ezekiel Emanuel's International Call for Ebola Drug Ethics
In the wake of the apparent success of an experimental drug in ridding two U.S. missionary of the Ebola virus, Britain's Telegraph newspaper and France's Agency French Presse are spotlighting a Lancet article by LDI Senior Fellow Ezekiel Emanuel that calls for the use of ethical principles in the distribution of such pharmaceuticals.
The two missionaries who contacted Ebola while working in Liberia were airlifted back to Emory University Hospital and, under the aegis of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), were treated with Zmapp, a drug that had never before been used on humans. Both patients were declared free of the virus last week.
In the Lancet article co-authored with Annette Rid of London's Kings College, Emanuel writes, "Fair selection of participants is essential" and noted that "especially in a dire emergency such as this one, well-off and well-connected patients should not be further privileged."
The Telegraph pointed out that the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is the largest in history and has killed 1,350 people since March in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Emanuel, PhD, MD, MSc, is Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and Penn's Vice Provost for Global Initiatives. Annett Rid, MD, is a Senior Lecturer in Bioethics and Society in the King's College Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine.