|June 13, 2008
Aids vitamin trials banned
A South African court has banned unauthorised trials of vitamin therapies for Aids, which some say are a health risk. The High Court in Cape Town ruled against German physician Matthias Rath and US doctor David Rasnick, a former adviser to President Thabo Mbeki.
The case was brought by the pressure group the Treatment Action Campaign and the South African Medical Association. They accused Dr Rath of conducting illegal trials among poor communities. "It is declared that the clinical trials conducted in South Africa are unlawful," Judge Dumisani Zondi said in his ruling. Matthias Rath and his Rath Foundation promote vitamin pills and minerals which they say can reverse the development of HIV/Aids. But critics say such trials had led to unnecessary deaths when HIV-positive people stopped using anti-retroviral drugs.
TAC and SAMA accused the South African government of not doing enough to stop the trials and failing in its duty of care to the public. Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who has controversially advocated garlic and beetroot instead of anti-retroviral drugs, denied the allegations. Nathan Geffen of the Treatment Action Campaign hailed the judgment as a victory for scientific governance, which he said had been contested by the health minister and president.
South Africa has one of the world's highest incidences of HIV. One in five adults are reported to be infected and an estimated 500.000 people are infected each year.