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The national health research ethics committee, a national body under the federal ministry of health, has approved the use of ZMapp, an experimental drug for the treatment of patients infected with the virus.

The endorsement was announced in a statement issued to journalists by the chairman of the committee, Prof. Clement Adebamowo, in Abuja on Wednesday.

The decision by the committee is coming on the heels of Tuesday’s approval by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the use of experimental drugs for the treatment of Ebola patients.

However, the manufacturers of the drug have already announced that it has been exhausted.

“It is ethical to use these treatments in the current situation without first submitting an application to National, State or Institutional Health Research Ethics Committee for prior review and approval,” the statement said.

“In addition, the Committee waives the current requirement that international shipment of any biological samples out of Nigeria should be preceded by the establishment of a Materials Transfer Agreement.

“This waiver is to promote rapid international response to this global emergency.”

The statement further stated that all innovative and non-validated treatments should be carefully and adequately documented, adding that the documentation can form the basis for clinical trials of the efficacy and side effects of the treatment according to established scientific principles.

“The ethics committee enjoins all agencies, development partners and research scientists to follow the guideline for the rapid resolution of the current emergency.

“The guideline will contribute to preparedness in case of future occurrences and contribution to scientific knowledge.

“It must be noted that all Phase O and Phase I Clinical Trials that may subsequently be designed for treatment of this infection can be approved only by the National Health Research Ethics Committee,” it said.

(The cable)

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