Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The (w)rath of the TAC

This news quip from Legalbrief has caught the eye of Afro Leo following the decision last month in Treatment Action Campaign and Another v Rath and Others (12156/05) [2008] ZAWCHC 34 (13 June 2008) concerning unlawful clinical trials, false or misleading advertisements and the legality of the distribution of the products Vitacor Plus, Epican Forte, Lysin C Drink Mix and VitaCell in South Africa.

"In a country where the Minister of Health considers beetroot to be a more effective remedy for HIV-AIDS than anti-retrovirals, it is just as well we have an organisation such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) to champion the cause of the poor, sick and downtrodden. It has done – and continues to do – amazing work in its battle against a government in denial. When last month it finally won its bid to rein in the activities of vitamin entrepreneur Matthias Rath – the Cape High Court banned Rath and his Rath Foundation from conducting unauthorised clinical trials in SA – it was not difficult to choose the TAC as our June nomination for the Legal Newsmaker of the Year award. The award, launched by Legalbrief Today in association with the Law Society of SA, recognises those who have made an outstanding and newsworthy contribution in the field of law – and few will argue the TAC has done just that."

The TAC’s (successful) complaint was that Rath (and others) carried out activities which risk the health and lives of people with AIDS. The TAC alleged that Rath (and others cited as respondents) "sell and distribute medicines which are not registered, sell products containing scheduled substances; make false and unauthorised statements about efficacy of their medicines in treating or preventing AIDS; conduct unauthorised and unethical clinical trials on people with AIDS; and make false statements that ARVs are ineffective in treating AIDS, and are poisonous and they discourage people with AIDS from taking medicines which are an essential element of an effective treatment programme."

The two parties have been at loggerheads in the past when the TAC won an action against Rath for defamation see decision here.

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