Health care

First ever multidrug Ebola trial in Congo

Print edition : January 04, 2019

The multidrug Ebola trial in DRC. Photo: WHO

IN the wake of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since August, the country’s Ministry of Health has announced a randomised control trial to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of drugs used in the treatment of Ebola patients, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) press release. The trial is the first ever multidrug trial for Ebola treatment. It will form part of a multi-outbreak, multi-country study that was agreed to by partners under a WHO initiative. “The launch of the randomised control trial in DRC is an important step towards finally finding an Ebola treatment that will save lives,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Until now, patients were treated under a compassionate use protocol, with drugs that showed promise and had a good safety profile in laboratory conditions. The giant step DRC is taking now will bring clarity about what works best, and save many lives in years to come.”

Until now, over 160 patients have been treated with investigational therapeutics under an ethical framework developed by the WHO called the Monitored Emergency Use of Unregistered and Investigational Interventions (MEURI) . The MEURI protocol was not designed to evaluate the drugs. Now that protocols for trials are in place, patients will be offered treatments under that framework in the facilities where the trial has started. In October, WHO convened a meeting of international organisations, United Nations partners, countries at risk of Ebola and drug manufacturers to agree on a framework to continue trials in the next Ebola outbreak, whenever and wherever it occurs. The current trial is coordinated by the WHO, and led by the DRC’s National Institute for Biomedical Research, in partnership with the DRC Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S, the Alliance for International Medical Action and others.

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