UPDATE 2-Obama administration setting up group on experimental Ebola drugs

Thu Aug 7, 2014 5:58pm EDT
 
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(Adds details on new group, experimental Ebola drugs; changes dateline, previous WASHINGTON)

By David Morgan and Sharon Begley

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK Aug 7 (Reuters) - The Obama administration is forming a special Ebola working group to consider setting policy for the potential use of experimental drugs to help the hundreds infected by the deadly disease in West Africa, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The group is being formed under Dr. Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the Department of Health and Human Services, an administration official said.

The action follows mounting international pressure as the death toll mounts to consider using untested treatments. The World Health Organization (WHO) is due to consider next week the ethics of administering such drugs.

Ebola has claimed at least 932 lives, according to the WHO.

The U.S. group will include scientists and officials from such agencies as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Calls to consider making unapproved drugs available to Ebola patients have grown since two U.S. aid workers infected with the deadly virus received an experimental treatment that may have helped them.

The drug, from California-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc, had only been tested on monkeys. It is one of several being considered for use by people infected with Ebola.   Continued...