Ebola treatments manufactured with offer of ‘orphan’ status

Posted on 27 Oct 2014 by Tim Brown

Canadian firm Tekmira Pharmaceuticals has commenced manufacturing a drug which is aimed at treating the Ebola-Guinea virus, which has so far claimed the lives of close to 5,000 people, primarily in west Africa.

According to news agency Reuters, Tekmira said last Tuesday that the new drug, part of its TKM-Ebola programme, would be available by early December.

Tekmira has completed the design of a modified RNAi (ribonucleic acid interference) drug that targets the Ebola-Guinea variant and works by preventing the virus from replicating.

The European Medicines Agency said on Monday it was ready to offer Ebola treatments and vaccines the benefits of “orphan” drug status, including fee reductions and market exclusivity, in an effort to encourage their development.

Initial clinical trials of Ebola vaccines from GlaxoSmithKline and NewLink Genetics are already under way, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

Mapp Biopharmaceutical gave its experimental Ebola treatment ZMapp to American medical workers Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who recovered after contracting Ebola in Liberia, and to at least one Spanish priest, who died.

Reuters reported that Mapp had begun manufacturing a greater amount of the drug so that human testing could be carried out.