MSF/Médecins Sans Frontières – Ebola/EVD [to 25 October 2014]

MSF/Médecins Sans Frontières
:: MSF aims to start drug trials in Ebola clinics next month
Reuters | 22 October 2014
The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) intends to start trials of experimental Ebola drugs in its treatment centers in West Africa next month, as it steps up measures to tackle the worst outbreak of the disease on record. Bertrand Draguez, medical director of MSF Belgium, said academics and the World Health Organization (WHO) were currently assessing which drugs to include in the tests. Meanwhile, a team of experts in West Africa was assessing which treatments should be tested in which MSF clinic, he said.

:: Ebola: MSF Urges Immediate Action on Vaccines and Treatments for Frontline Workers
October 24, 2014
[Excerpts]
Geneva—Following a high-level meeting on access and funding for Ebola vaccines convened yesterday by World Health Organization (WHO), Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has urged that plans to get forthcoming Ebola vaccines and treatments to frontline workers must be rapidly implemented. Significant investment and incentives are needed now to accelerate these steps.

“The message we heard from WHO that the people fighting the epidemic will be among the first to test Ebola vaccines and treatments is exactly the one we needed to hear,” said Dr. Bertrand Draguez, medical director for MSF. “Now urgent action is needed to get those promises delivered in West Africa as soon as possible. This needs to be followed by massive roll out of vaccines to the general population once their efficacy is proven.”

“It crucial that people from Ministries of Health, aid agencies, and communities who are holding the response to the epidemic together, and ensuring access to essential health care, are protected,” Dr. Draguez added. “Resources everywhere are stretched to almost breaking point; everyone is at capacity, but it is extremely hard for the people treating and sustaining the response to do it with absolutely no safety net. Safe and effective treatments and vaccines could offer just that.”

Staff who should be prioritized to test the vaccines include health care workers, community workers, and people who support the Ebola response such as hygiene personnel, ambulance drivers, health promoters, contact tracers, and people in charge of funerals. Medical staff providing care for other diseases than Ebola should also be prioritized to receive test vaccines.

While the focus of the WHO meeting was on Ebola vaccines, new treatments and diagnostics for the disease are also urgently needed to allow people treating the epidemic to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

“The rapid development and deployment of safe and effective experimental treatments is also critical,” said Dr. Draguez. “Today, doctors and nurses involved in the struggle against Ebola are getting more and more frustrated as they have no treatment for patients with a disease that kills up to 80 percent of them.”…

…Large-scale investment in all front-running vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics is vital and sufficient resources for clinical trials and post-trial access need to be mobilized by donors now. The scientific data generated for each product under clinical trials should be published in real time, and a pooled bank of samples should be established to facilitate open research. But the lack of approved Ebola products to this point highlights a key issue that must be urgently addressed; the lack of sufficient investment and incentives to develop them.

“Appropriate incentives that give industry a reason to develop these vital tools for Ebola are needed now—government and donors must line up to help here,” Dr. Balasegaram said. “We need researchers and developers to conduct clinical trials in parallel with scaling up production supply, which we know has its inherent risks. Governments and donors must help incentivize this risk, and the path to regulation in getting approved, safe and effective vaccines and treatments on the ground in West Africa needs to be a smooth one.”