Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


China sends Ebola drug to Africa

16 October 2014, 11:08

Shanghai - A Chinese drugmaker with military ties has sent an experimental Ebola drug to Africa for use by Chinese aid workers and is planning clinical trials there to combat the disease, executives at the firm told Reuters on Thursday.

Sihuan Pharmaceutical Holdings Group Ltd has supplied several thousand doses of its drug JK-05 to the region, Chief Operating Officer Jia Zhongxin said. More doses could be sent if needed, Jia said.

An Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the worst on record, has killed more than 4,000 people.

Governments and drugmakers around the world have been racing to find a treatment for the outbreak, which has spread as far as the United States and Europe. U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to get more "aggressive" against the disease.

"Aid workers have already taken the drug with them, and if a case breaks out (amongst the aid workers), then the drug may be used," added Huo Caixia, Sihuan's assistant general manager.

Sihuan, part-owned by U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley , is hoping to get the drug fast-tracked for civilian use in China. It has signed an agreement with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMS), a research unit, to seek approval for the drug's use in China and push it to market.

The drug, approved in China for emergency military use only, was initially developed by AMMS.

If it proves to be an effective cure it would be a big prize for China's medical sector and a boost to China's soft power in Africa, an increasingly important partner for the world's second-biggest economy.

President Xi Jinping said week China would ramp up efforts against Ebola. "We will continue to work together with the international community to fight against the Ebola epidemic," the Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as telling ambassadors on Wednesday.

Read also: Second US health care worker tests positive for Ebola

Sihuan says it is China's third-largest prescription drugmaker. It was originally a military scientific unit, which was spun off into its current form in 2001.

The company is preparing for clinical trials in Africa and could test the drug on African Ebola patients, said Huo. No Chinese nationals have been infected.

"Right now, we're formulating a plan for clinical trials, and don't rule out the possibility of using African patients," she said, adding that any outbreak of Ebola in Asia or China would speed up the drug's timetable to market.

There are about a million Chinese nationals living in Africa, with some 10,000 in the countries most affected by Ebola, which are Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

China has sent hundreds of aid workers to Africa to help in the fight against the outbreak and more than $35 million in medical aid to the worst affected countries.

China's military has also given Sihuan the green-light to produce emergency supplies of the drug.

JK-05 has not been used on humans, although Sihuan says it has proven effective in tests on mice.

Its development lags some way behind U.S.-developed ZMapp and TKM-Ebola, which have been tested on monkeys and used on Ebola patients. However, analysts said the drug's similarities to Japanese influenza drug Favipiravir is an encouraging sign.

Japanese firm Fujifilm Holdings Corp last week said the French and Guinean governments were considering clinical trials of Favipiravir, developed by group firm Toyama Chemical Co, to treat patients with Ebola.

Sihuan's Hong Kong-lised shares were up 4.5 percent at 0230 (0630 GMT), far outpacing the wider Hang Seng Index which was down 0.7 percent. The firm's shares are up over 80 percent this year compared with the benchmark index which is broadly flat.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!

- Reuters

Tags china ebola

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
William Korir
CORD to stop Jubilee efforts to r...

The CORD Coalition will not allow plans to remove Kenya from the Rome Statutes take place, it has said. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
How long will it take Kenya to le...

Kenya is looking to leave the ICC. But what is the process behind the exit? Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Jubilee resumes efforts to push K...

Kenya will this week resume efforts to leave the ICC court. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
How to treat him right

Men want to go home to a woman who makes them feel loved and appreciated. Here's how to make him feel special here: Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Kenyans demand action after femal...

This comes a few days after a female passenger was drugged and then robbed in a matatu plying the Kenyatta – Kencom route. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Natural aphrodisiacs to boost lib...

It is advisable to take them before sex in order to achieve maximum benefit. Read more...