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Thursday, August 28, 2014

What We Need to Learn From the Ebola Epidemic

By Robert Klitzman
The Huffington Post
Originally posted August 9, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

Still, even if the medication works and is provided abroad, obstacles will remain to educate patients adequately about it and obtain appropriate informed consent. The fact that the drug is experimental and may still fail or make patients sicker -- even if it seems to offer benefit to a few patients -- needs to be explained in a way that patients in Africa, many of whom have little education, can understand. Barriers exist in part for cultural and linguistic reasons. In some African languages, for instance, there is no word for "placebo" or "experimental treatment," only for "cure. Questions remain regarding whether the drug should first be tested against a placebo or simply given to everyone. Use of a placebo will help scientists understand the drug's effectiveness. But if the medication turns out to work, patients who were randomized not to receive it will have lost out. These quandaries are complex, and WHO needs to explore and address them very carefully.

The entire article is here.