Ebola drug makers discuss future of Zmapp

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SAN DIEGO - The leading experts on the Ebola virus drug held a town hall discussion at the Scripps Research Institute Wednesday.

The experts painted a bleak picture of conditions on the ground in the West African nations where thousands of people have been infected with the deadly disease.

“Ebola has a 60 percent fatality rate, which is actually better than the original outbreak, but this virus has spread much farther,” said Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire, a leading researcher from Scripps.

The untested, experimental drug Zmapp has been used to treat several people with Ebola and showed some anecdotal successes, researchers said. Six people have received the drug four recovered, two people died.

“Being a skeptical scientist I have to say that I cannot say that this drug is safe or effective,” said Kevin Whaley, the CEO ZMAPP.

Even with Whaley’s healthy skepticism, patients infected with the disease are clamoring for the drug.

Zmapp executives said they have no timeframe for mass production, but they are working as fast as they can to help cure the disease.