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Just seven months ago, executives at the biotechnology company Chimerix were receiving death threats after refusing to provide its experimental drug to a 7-year-old boy who was close to dying from a viral infection.
The refusal set off a fierce social media campaign and subjected the company to unfavorable news coverage. Chimerix quickly found a way to provide the drug to the boy, Josh Hardy of Virginia, who then recovered.
Now Chimerix is back in the news, but in a more positive way. That same antiviral drug has suddenly become the medicine of choice for Ebola, being used on an emergency basis to treat both the Liberian patient in Dallas andthe NBC News cameraman in Nebraska.
What is remarkable is that the drug, with the unwieldy name brincidofovir, has never before been tested in people with Ebola, and there is not even any data available showing that it works in animals infected with the virus.
That is a sign of the paucity of options. No approved treatments for Ebola exist. And the supply of what some experts consider the most promising experimental drug, ZMapp, was exhausted after only seven patients used it.