Untested Ebola Drug Causes Deaths in Freetown

A team of British doctors working at an Ebola treatment center in Freetown have accussed an Italian NGO of using an untested drug to treat patients who have tested positive for the virus.

The team of 14 British doctors, nurses and paramedics said they have stopped work at the Lakka Treatment Center in Freetown because of the experimental and potentially dangerous use of an untested drug on several Ebola patients.

The drug has been identified as amiodarone, which doctors said has not been previously used in animals or humans.

The Italian NGO at the center of the allegations is called Emmergency and runs a 22-bed facility at Lakka and a newly built 100-bed facility at Goderich in Freetown funded by the British Department for International Development (DFID).

The British medical team is said to have reported to DFID, which is funding the centers, that its members can not work in the environment because the complications involved in administering the drug to the patients puts health workers at grave risks.

Two doctors, one of whom was a Ugandan, has been infected at the center, according to the team.

They said amiodarone is administered at the center without appropriate monitoring or patient consent, and may have been responsible for the mortality figures at the center.

A source at DFID confirmed that the concerns have been reported to its hierachy and that steps have been taken to stop the use of the drug on Ebola patients.

Amiodarone is a licensed drug to regulate patients’ heartbeat and has not been approved for clinical trials on Ebola patients, according to WHO official sources.

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