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Texas Ebola patient still critical, now receiving experimental drug

Texas Ebola patient still critical, now receiving experimental drug
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Hospital officials confirmed Monday that Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan is receiving an experimental drug. (LM Otero / Associated Press)

A Liberian man being treated for Ebola in a Dallas hospital is still in critical condition, but is now receiving an experimental treatment.

Thomas Eric Duncan has been in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital since Sept. 28, after he came down with symptoms of Ebola days after arriving in Texas from Liberia.

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Health officials are still monitoring 50 people thought to have possibly come into contact with Duncan. His girlfriend, her son and two other men living at an apartment where Duncan had stayed have been moved to a private residence while the apartment is cleaned. None of them have developed symptoms of Ebola.

In a statement Monday, officials at the hospital said Duncan was in critical but stable condition. He is receiving a drug called Brincidofovir, manufactured by North Carolina drug company Chimerix Inc., the statement said.

Officials over the weekend downgraded Duncan from serious to critical condition, and officials reported Sunday he was on a respirator and fighting for his life.

Chimerix confirmed in a statement that the drug “has been provided for potential use in patients with Ebola.” Doctors treating patients had requested the drug, the company said, and the request was granted by the Food and Drug Administration through the Emergency Investigational New Drug Application process.

The FDA does not comment on specific drug applications.

Chimerix is committed to working with global health organizations and government agencies in the fight against the Ebola virus outbreak,” said Chimerix Chief Executive Dr. M. Michelle Berrey in a statement. “We are hopeful that Brincidofovir may offer a potential treatment for Ebola Virus Disease during this outbreak,”
Chimerix says the drug has made it to Phase 3 testing for two other viruses – adenovirus and cytomegalovirus – but has shown some promise against Ebola in test tube experiments. The fact that it has made it this far means that it has passed initial safety tests required by regulators. According to company officials, the FDA had fast-tracked the drug as a treatment for cytomegalovirus, adenovirus and smallpox.

The company is testing the drug's efficacy against Ebola in animal subjects.

For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc.

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