The elusive CEO of Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc., the company that delivered an experimental Ebola drug to American aid workers in West Africa, spoke at a panel discussion hosted by The Scripps Research Institute.

Kevin Whaley has largely avoided media inquiries about the drug, ZMapp, but addressed the public in a panel discussion about the San Diego response to the Ebola outbreak.

“[ZMapp] is not a ‘secret serum,’” Whaley said, “It’s a very well characterized technology. There’s reason to think it would be safe.”

Whaley was hesitant to say the experimental drug helped the two American survivors.

“Hopefully ZMapp played some role,” Whaley said. “But that remains to be seen.”

Whaley said his company is getting federal help in preparing the drug for clinical trials, including increasing production.

The discussion panel also included Erica Ollmann Saphire, who heads an international efforts to find antibodies to fight the Ebola virus, and Mark O’Donnell, chief operating officer of Project Concern International. The panelists addressed the need for more aid in the form of simple and inexpensive items such as gloves, gowns and disinfectant chlorine in West Africa.

“A doctor shouldn’t die because he doesn’t have gloves to wear,” Ollmann Saphire said. “This is a solvable problem.”