Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Ethics challenge winner 20152016 The use of untested drugs in the treatment of the Ebola virus.pdf (155.81 kB)

Ethics challenge winner 2015/2016. The use of untested drugs in the treatment of the Ebola virus

Download (155.81 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-04, 14:46 authored by Deirdre Harford

The 2015/2016 RCSIsmj Ethics Challenge presents the dilemma surrounding Ebola treatments and their distribution. Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, an American pharmaceutical company, has developed a number of promising but untested vaccines for treatment of the virus. With rising incidence and high mortality rates, the WHO decided to back the use of ZMapp, an untested Ebola intervention, in humans. Faced with this multi-faceted outbreak, we find ourselves placing under the microscope our principles with regard to clinical trials, intervention availability and duty of care beliefs. Further ethical questions arose following news that American missionaries who became infected while providing care to Ebola patients received ZMapp treatment and subsequently recovered, having been selected over Africans to receive the treatment. This article aims to examine the ethical grounds for providing patients with an untested drug for diseases such as Ebola, and the distribution, prioritisation and criteria for deciding the recipients of said treatment



The original article is available at Part of the RCSIsmj collection:

Published Citation

Harford D. Ethics challenge winner 2015/2016 The use of untested drugs in the treatment of the Ebola virus. RCSIsmj. 2016;9(1):6-9

Publication Date



  • Undergraduate Research


RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences


  • Published Version (Version of Record)