Ebolais one of the most dangerous viral infections ever. With about 90%fatality rates in confirmed cases, it has claimed close to 2000 livesin Africa and many more continue to die. Two American doctors andlater a British nurse who acquired the deadly virus during theirmissionary work in Africa were however, cured of the disease by anexperimental drug developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. withindays. Interestingly, WHO has ruled out use of the drug to treat otherdying patients because the drug is not yet legally approved for humanuse (Gupta & Dellorto 2014).
Ethical& legal issues
Thereare several ethical issues at play in the above case. First is thesubjective application of law in use of non approved drugs. It isclear that doctors are willing to go around the law in protectingthemselves and one of their own by using an experimental drug. Theclaim that they gave informed consent to use the drug does not meanthe law ceases to exist. The law must be followed by all. The secondethical issue is based on utilitarian and consequentialismperspectives which would support the use of the drug based on itsresults rather than the law. African patients infected with thevirus are isolated in ill-equipped clinics with little chances ofsurvival. If the new drug increases their chances of survival, it isonly ethically right to offer them the chance. The ethical principleof nonmaleficence, widely used by doctors, applies here. Failure touse the drug, which has cured some cases, amounts to harming patientsto me.
Thethird issue is that comes up is on the safety of the healthcareprofessionals. Is their attempt to help patients worth the risk oftheir lives? Can they afford to pay with their lives for the lives ofothers? Are American and European doctors putting their countries atrisk of Ebola outbreaks by working n those affected countries?Legally they have the right to do so but I feel that they should doso at their own risk. This is sensitive because when they contractsuch diseases, they have to be flown back home and put families andother doctors at risk.
Gupta,S. & Dellorto, D. Experimental drug likely saved Ebola patients.CNNNews.5thAugust 2014.http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/04/health/experimental-ebola-serum/ (accessed September 5th2014).
Watson,L. (2014). British Ebola patient says he`s `wonderfully lucky` afterbeing cured and discharged from hospital in just 10 days. DailyMail3rdSeptember 2014.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2741831/Ebola-Brit-discharged-hospital.html(accessed September 5th2014).