South Africa: Treatment Action Campaign Seeks Ban on Rath Treating AIDS With Vitamins
March 18, 2008
Lawyers for Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) are asking the Cape High Court to stop vitamin-maker Matthias Rath and his associates from promoting his products as an alternative HIV/AIDS treatment.
TAC and the South African Medical Association (SAMA), the country's largest organization of physicians, charge that Rath is systematically contravening the Medicines Act by distributing unregistered medicines, conducting unauthorized clinical trials, and publishing "false and misleading" claims that vitamins and micro-nutrients reverse the course of AIDS. The act defines medicine as any substance that is used, claims to be suitable for, or is manufactured and sold for diagnosing, treating or preventing disease.
"It [the case] has very important implications -- to protect public health and to protect people from unscrupulous moneymakers," said Zackie Achmat, TACs chairperson.
In addition, the groups say the government has failed to fulfill its duties to protect the public by not taking reasonable steps to investigate and halt Rath's allegedly unlawful activities. TAC and SAMA want the court to issue a structured interdict compelling Health Department Director-General Thami Mseleku and the government to probe Rath's activities and halt them if laws are being broken, and to report their findings to the court.
Dumisa Ntsebeza, Rath's lawyer, said his client has never claimed the products were medicine. "We are saying they are nutritional supplements," said Ntsebeza.
Business Day (South Africa)
3.13.2008; Tamar Kahn
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.