SOUTH AFRICA: Final chapter in Rath saga?

Photo: Kristy Siegfried/IRIN PlusNews
South Africa has struggled to regulate a multitude of products claiming to treat HIV/AIDS
Johannesburg, 16 March 2009 (PlusNews) - AIDS activists in South Africa appear to have won the final round of a protracted battle to prevent vitamin salesman Matthias Rath from promoting his unproven remedies to patients living with HIV and AIDS.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), an AIDS lobby group, reported on Monday that Rath had failed to file court papers in time to uphold his appeal against a High Court order issued in June 2008, banning him from publishing further advertisements claiming that VitaCell, his multivitamin product, cured AIDS, or from continuing clinical trials of the product in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

The High Court ruling also ordered the health department to investigate Rath's unlawful activities and to ensure he complied with the ban. Before the ruling, the health department had failed to act on complaints against Rath lodged by the South African Medical Association and the TAC.

According to the TAC, since the court order the health department has acted on evidence that Rath's products were still being distributed from a facility in the port city of Durban.

In a recent letter to the TAC, Dr J. Gouws of the department's Law Inspectorate described the investigations as "at an advanced stage". "On the strength of our investigations, criminal cases have been opened by the department for the alleged contraventions of the [order] and are being investigated by the South African Police Services (SAPS) in Durban," wrote Gouws.

Rath has now left South Africa and his enterprises are no longer thought to have a significant presence in the country, but in a statement the TAC said that issuing an arrest warrant would be "important symbolically to close this tragic affair, which has directly cost the lives of several of Rath's patients, and indirectly cost the lives of countless others who were confused by the false messages of Rath."


See also: SOUTH AFRICA: TAC prevails over Rath

Theme (s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews),

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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