June 16, 2008
On Friday, the Cape High Court ruled that the vitamin firm that makes VitaCell cannot advertise it as an AIDS treatment, the South African Press Association reported. The ruling was hailed by the South African AIDS group Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which had brought the case against vitamin entrepreneur Matthias Rath.
In addition to banning the advertisement of the claims, Judge Dumasini Zondi ruled that clinical trials being conducted in black townships by Rath and his Dr. Rath Foundation are illegal and must stop. The judge said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and her department also have a duty to investigate Rath's activities, including taking "reasonable measures" to prevent Rath from advertising VitaCell as having anti-AIDS benefits and from carrying out clinical trials.
"This judgment this morning is a victory for the rule of law and the scientific governance of medicine," said Nathan Geffen, TAC's spokesperson. "Over the last decade in this country, a culture of impunity has been created such that charlatans like Matthias Rath can get away with deceiving vulnerable people into taking snake oils such that those people end up progressing to AIDS and dying."
TAC knows of at least 12 people who died from AIDS after relying on Rath's clinics instead of seeking actual AIDS treatment at a public health clinic, Geffen said.