The government is considering importing an experimental treatment for the deadly Ebola virus that is being developed in Japan.
A spokesman at the Korea Food and Drug Administration on Sunday said, "If any Ebola patients are discovered in Korea, we may import a treatment under development in Japan since it's set for approval by the U.S. FDA."
The drug, an influenza treatment called favipiravir, was developed by a pharmaceutical affiliate of Fuji Film as an alternative to the poorly performing Tamiflu. The phase 2 clinical trials are complete and a large-scale third round of clinical testing is in progress.
The KFDA spokesman said the drug has proved effective in laboratory mice infected with Ebola, and tests are being conducted on monkeys. Once the preliminary test results come out in mid-September, the U.S. FDA is expected to fast-track approval amid growing global fears over the deadly virus.
Two American aid workers who were infected with Ebola in Liberia were given a drug called ZMapp, but that is only being produced in such small amounts that importing it here is unrealistic, the KFDA said.
"In emergencies where public health is at risk, the KFDA can forego certain routine procedures and import it right away," the spokesman added.