Just one day after the announcement that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada authorized Tekmira Pharmaceuticals to provide TKM-Ebola for treatment under expanded access protocols to subjects with confirmed or suspected Ebola virus infections, it is being reported that one of the Ebola-infected Americans brought back to the United States is being treated with the drug.
The Nebraska Medical Center reports that doctors treating Dr. Rick Sacra, a SIM USA physician who contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia, is being treated with the research drug called TKM-Ebola, manufactured by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
“We were pleased that TKM-Ebola was available to treat Dr. Sacra,” said Phil Smith, M.D., medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at The Nebraska Medical Center. “Although the FDA just authorized Tekmira to provide TKM-Ebola for treatment under expanded access protocols to patients with the Ebola virus, there’s still a very short supply.”
Dr. Sacra received TKM-Ebola for seven days while being treated at The Nebraska Medical Center. Treatment started the day he arrived. Dr. Sacra also received a blood transfusion from Ebola survivor, Dr. Kent Brantly, along with other supportive therapy to help his body fight off the virus.
While TKM-Ebola may have played a role in helping Dr. Sacra recover, doctors here caution against thinking it might be a magic bullet. “We need to carefully assess all the treatments being provided to patients with the Ebola virus,” said Angela Hewlett, M.D., associate medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at The Nebraska Medical Center. “We don’t know if it was Dr. Sacra’s own immune system, the supportive therapy we provided, the blood transfusion from Dr. Brantly, TKM-Ebola or a combination of all these factors that helped Dr. Sacra recover. What’s important is that we pool all of our treatment resources and continue to study what is most effective in treating the virus.”
Last week, Nebraska Medical Center doctors said they expect Dr. Sacra to make a full recovery.