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South Korea mulls importing Ebola drug from Japan

August 9, 2014
A thermal camera monitor shows the body temperature of passengers arriving from overseas against possible infections of Ebola virus at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. South Korea has been stepping up monitoring of its citizens returning from trips to West Africa and other areas affected by the deadly Ebola virus. (Yonhap)

A thermal camera monitor shows the body temperature of passengers arriving from overseas against possible infections of Ebola virus at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. South Korea has been stepping up monitoring of its citizens returning from trips to West Africa and other areas affected by the deadly Ebola virus. (Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea said Sunday it is considering importing an Ebola medicine from Japan amid ongoing measures to block the entry of the deadly virus that has gripped West Africa.

No Ebola cases have been reported in South Korea, but nearly 1,000 people, mostly in West Africa, have died from Ebola hemorrhagic fever since the first outbreak in March.

“In order to prepare for a potential outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the country, we are mulling importing Fuji Film’s Ebola treatment, which is likely to get the quickest approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,” said the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

The drug ministry said it may allow the Japanese company to officially sell the medication in South Korea. The ministry may also give a nod to a limited supply of the medicine in emergency cases, it added.

The antivirus treatment, which is currently under a clinical trial, was first developed as an influenza cure. A recent test involving laboratory mice showed that the drug is effective in curing Ebola hemorrhagic fever.

A test result for infected monkeys is set to be released next month. The United States has remarked that it will proceed to authorize the treatment once the animal tests are complete.

The ministry said it will continue to monitor the epidemic and the authorization of the Fuji Film treatment in the U.S. as well as European countries.

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