Kentucky BioProcessing complied with a request from Emory and the international relief group Samaritan’s Purse to provide a limited amount of ZMapp to Emory, he said. Brantly works for the aid group.
The Kentucky company is working "to increase production of ZMapp but that process is going to take several months," Howard said. The drug has been tested in animals and testing in humans is expected to begin later this year.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must grant permission to use experimental treatments in the United States, but the FDA does not have authority over the use of such a drug in other countries, and the aid workers were first treated in Liberia. An FDA spokeswoman said she could not confirm or deny FDA granting access to any experimental therapy for the aid workers while in the U.S.
Writebol, 59, had been in isolation at her home in Liberia since she was diagnosed last month. She’s now walking with assistance and has regained her appetite, said Bruce Johnson, president of SIM USA, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based group that she works for in Africa.
Writebol has received two doses of the experimental drug so far, but Johnson was hesitant to credit the treatment for her improvement.
"Ebola is a tricky virus and one day you can be up and the next day down. One day is not indicative of the outcome," he said. But "we’re grateful this medicine was available."
Brantly, 33, also was said to be improving. Besides the experimental dose he got in Liberia, he also received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy, an Ebola survivor, who had been under his care. That seems to be aimed at giving Brantly antibodies the boy may have made to the virus.
Samaritan’s Purse initiated the events that led to the two workers getting ZMapp, according to a statement Monday by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The group contacted U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials in Liberia to discuss various experimental treatments and were referred to an NIH scientist in Liberia familiar with those treatments.
The scientist answered some questions and referred them to the companies but was not officially representing the NIH and had no "official role in procuring, transporting, approving, or administering the experimental products," the statement says.
The CDC last week told U.S. doctors to ask about foreign travel by patients who come down with Ebola-like symptoms, including fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea. A spokesman said three people have been tested so far in the U.S. — and all tested negative. Additionally, a New York City hospital on Monday said a man was being tested for Ebola but he likely didn’t have it.
Writebol and her husband, David, had been in Liberia since last August, sent there by SIM USA and sponsored by their home congregation at Calvary Church in Charlotte. At the clinic, Nancy Writebol’s duties included disinfecting staff entering or leaving the Ebola treatment area.
"Her husband, David, told me Sunday her appetite has improved and she requested one of her favorite dishes – Liberian potato soup — and coffee," SIM’s Johnson said.