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Editorials

New treatments for Ebola virus disease

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l5371 (Published 06 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5371
  1. Daniel R Lucey, professor of medicine
  1. Department of Medicine and Infectious Disease, Georgetown University Medstar Hospital, Washington, DC, USA
  2. DRL23@Georgetown.edu

Effective in early disease but more research is needed for late disease

The expanding epidemic of Ebola virus disease in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has entered its second year despite courageous efforts by Congolese and international colleagues.1 By the end of August, 3000 cases and 2000 deaths had been reported.2 Although the first Ebola outbreaks were recognised in DRC and Sudan in 1976, there has never been an effective treatment.

A breakthrough was announced in August 2019.3 A randomised controlled trial was stopped early after a strict statistical criterion for decreased mortality was met by one of the monoclonal antibody treatments being tested (REGN-EB3).4 This benefit was especially strong in patients with early stage disease. A second monoclonal antibody (mAb114) appeared nearly as effective as REGN-EB3.

The new treatments are given as single dose intravenous infusions, and both are being made available to all patients in the DRC.4 They have been given orphan drug status by the US Food and Drug Administration and should receive prompt review for licensing. The other …

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