Breakthrough treatments for Ebola virus disease, but no access-what went wrong, and how can we do better?

Torreele E Boum Y Adjaho I Alé FGB Issoufou SH Harczi G Okonta C Olliaro P
The Lancet. Infectious diseases 2023 Jan 19; . doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(22)00810-6. Epub 2023 01 19


Three years since proving effective for Ebola virus disease in a clinical trial, two breakthrough treatments are registered and stockpiled in the USA but still not registered and generally available in the countries most affected by this deadly infection of epidemic potential. Analysing the reasons for this, we see a fragmentation of the research and development value chain, with different stakeholders taking on different steps of the research and development process, without the public health-focused leadership needed to ensure the end goal of equitable access in countries where Ebola virus disease is prevalent. Current financial incentives for companies to overcome market failures and engage in epidemic-prone diseases are geared towards registration and stockpiling in the USA, without responsibility to provide access where and when needed. Ebola virus disease is the case in point, but not unique-a situation seen again for mpox and likely to occur again for other epidemics primarily affecting disempowered communities. Stronger leadership in African countries will help drive drug development efforts for diseases that primarily affect their communities, and ensure all partners align with and commit to an end-to-end approach to pharmaceutical development and manufacturing that puts equitable access when and where needed at its core.

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