Officials say Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient who died in Texas on Wednesday, received an experimental drug not used by past survivors. The drug is called Brincidofovir, manufactured by Chimerix. According to Forbes, after 6 days under hospital care, Duncan lost his battle with the virus. His death marks the first Ebola related death on American soil. Previous survivors were treated with a drug called ZMapp.
At this time the Texas medical team is focused on how to best handle Duncan’s body, which is still highly infectious. Medical response workers are taking great care in how they handle the body to prevent contracting and spreading the deadly disease.
According to CNN, the medical treatment Duncan received has family members upset. The family has questions about the level of care he received. Duncan’s fiance, mother and other family members do not feel that Duncan was treated with the same level of care that other patients were given. It has not only caused an uproar with the family, but has also gotten the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP ) involved.
Despite containment efforts, the public does not know much about the virus, which has no known medical cure. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Ebola virus does not directly cause death. Science Magazine reports that the problem is what the body does to itself as an effort to heal. As the body tries to heal, it begins to aggressively attack itself. This causes hemorrhaging and internal bleeding as the body tries to excrete the virus, a painful process that leaves the patients in dire need of fluids and medical care.
According to the Chimerix website, Brincidofovir is classified as a broad spectrum anti-viral drug that is experimental because it has not previously been tested in humans or animals, according to USA Today. It was approved for use in Duncan’s case although it has not been clinically tested.
Earlier this year permission was given by the manufacturer for another patient to be given Brincidofovir. In March CNN reported on a young boy named Josh Hardy, who fought cancer and then contracted a virus. He was originally denied the use of the drug. Chimerex told the young boy’s family and the media that “all resources were focused on gaining FDA approval.” As a result they ended the “compassionate use” program. A compassionate use program allows dying patients to use medications that have not been tested or approved as a last attempt to save a life. After continuous requests by the family, the company finally allowed doctors and the family to use the treatment. Josh lived.
Currently the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any drugs to help treat Ebola, so doctors have been trying untested and unproven drugs. Forbes reported that Ashoka Mukopo, the cameraman who contracted Ebola, will also be treated with Brincidofovir.
On Oct. 6 the North Carolina drug company announced that Brincidofovir will be available for treating Ebola. Overwhelming response has helped the drug company gain approval for public use. Once the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital received approval to use the drug on Duncan, they tweeted that it was going to be used.
Reports also state that Ashoka Mukopo received Brincidofovir. He also received a vial of blood donated from a previous survivor, Dr. Kent Brankley. Medical research shows that a blood transfusion from an infected person can help treat and, in some situations, cure disease.
Brincidofovir is a nucleotide analog. According to the company, the drug is similar to a natural blocker that protects vital parts of the body from connecting with the virus. Plans to manufacture more ZMapp are underway, but it may not be available to Ebola patients until January 2015.
By Carolette Wright