Updated August. 11, 2014 07:16
The Korean government said on Sunday that it is reviewing imports of a treatment for the Ebola virus, which is currently under clinical testing in Japan, related to concerns of the Ebola virus reaching Korea.
Although the treatment has not yet received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is known as the medication that will be authorized the first among all Ebola treatments. The drug is an antiviral developed to combat influenza, but upon recent testing on lab rats, it has effect on treating the Ebola hemorrhagic fever. U.S. health authorities said that testing is under way on monkeys and after animal testing ends, approval procedures will be conducted rapidly. The results of animal testing are scheduled to be available in September at the earliest.
The Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety plans to monitor the U.S. FDA approval for the drug before making a decision on whether to import. If the U.S. FDA issues an approval, the relevant pharmaceutical company will apply for a permit to sell on the Korean market and an import license will be issued. In addition, there is the method of bringing necessary quantities into Korea through the Korea Orphan Drug Center, an institution for the development and supply of medicines for rare disease.
Meanwhile, the Korean government plans to step up the monitoring system on airplanes and ships that arrive in Korea. Health Minister Moon Hyung-pyo said Sunday in a meeting convened with heads of 13 quarantine stations nationwide, "It is regretful that a person who is needed monitoring as a subject of management has entered Korea without receiving any quarantine inspection." He requested not to leave holes in quarantine as the virus could come into Korea through ships and cruises, not just by airplane.
Following that, the Health Ministry held prior mock exercise beginning from quarantine to transporting patients and isolating them in the event a person who enters or transits Korea from the four nations where the Ebola virus has been detected. In addition, it dispatched three epidemiologists to the Incheon Airport National Quarantine Station, thereby allocating additional human resources necessary for the quarantine of suspected patients.