Scant funds, rare outbreaks leave Ebola drug pipeline slim

Thu Mar 27, 2014 11:07am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

* Ebola virus one of most deadly known in humans

* 62 dead in suspected Ebola outbreak in Guinea - WHO

* Drug investment scant due to likely lack of return

* U.S. government funds research due to bioweapon fears

By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent

LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) - Almost 40 years after the Ebola virus was identified in humans by scientists in a microbiology laboratory in Belgium, pharmaceutical researchers have yet to develop an effective drug or vaccine to fight it.

Part of the problem is that the deadly virus is rare and its victims are often poor people living in rural areas of Africa without well-functioning health systems. But there is also little incentive for major pharmaceutical companies to invest in medical solutions when there is little chance of a return.

The number of doses sold is likely to be small and many health officials believe the virus and its death toll could be better controlled with good basic hygiene and the eradication of dangerous bushmeat consumption.

Yet there is a drug development pipeline, of sorts, out there - mainly funded by the U.S. government which fears such deadly viruses might one day be developed into bioweapons.   Continued...