Human Trial For Ebola Vaccine Begins This Week, 3rd American Infected
An experimental Ebola vaccine will be tested on humans this week, on the heels of news that a third American contracting Ebola. Dr. Rick Sacra, of the Boston-area, contracted the disease while working at a hospital in Liberia, but was not treating Ebola patients.
Sacra was delivering babies at a missionary hospital in the county centered around the outbreak. He returned to Liberia roughly a month ago, and is now in isolation. It is unclear if he will be flown to Atlanta’s Emory Hospital, where the two other American Ebola patients — Nancy Wrehbol and Dr. Kent Brantly — were treated.
“I know there have been discussion that this person will be coming back to the United States. I don’t believe that actual site where they’re coming back has been decided on yet, ” said Dr. Bruce Ribner, leader of the hospital’s unit for infection disease. Ribner oversaw treatment for Wrehbol and Brantly, both of whom have been cured.
Since February, Ebola has claimed more than 1,900 lives mostly in West Africa . The World Health Organization estimated that the disease could kill over 20,000 in the next six months, if not contained.
Pharmaceutical giant GlaskoSmithKline and the National Institute of Health are scheduled to begin trials for an Ebola vaccine this week. The drug has so far only been tested on primates.
The trial will include 20 human subjects, ages 18-50, and will take place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. No patients will be infected with Ebola but doctors will gauge whether the drug has any dangerous side effects.
Rushing to test the vaccine could be money motivated for GSK. The British company is the fourth largest on the London Stock Exchange, and earned £25.602 billion (over $42 billion) in revenue last year.
In 2012, GSK paid a $3 billion settlement and pleaded guilty to civil liabilities, along with criminal charges for “unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs,” and failing “to report certain safety data.”
GSK’s guilty plea included to two counts of “misbranding” the antidepressants Paxil and Wellbutrin, in addition to “failing to report safety data” about the diabetes drug, Avandia, to the FDA. The once popular drug has resulted in more than 50,000 lawsuits against GSK and has been found to increase heart attack risks. Avandia has also been linked to congestive heart failure, liver disease, and heart disease.
A federal investigation found that GSK also disregarded doctors’ concerns over the drug.