This is an archive of the Treatment Action Campaign's public documents from
December 1998 until October 2008. I created this website because the TAC's
website appears unmaintained and people were concerned that it
increasingly hard to find important documents.
The menu items have
been slightly edited and a new stylesheet applied to the site. But none of the
documents have been edited, not even for minor errors. The text appears on this
site as obtained from the Internet Archive.
The period covered by
the archive encompassed the campaign for HIV medicines, the civil disobedience
campaigns, the Competition Commission complaints, the 2008 xenophobic violence
and the PMTCT, Khayelitsha health workers and Matthias Rath court cases.
Analysis of deaths on Matthias Rath illegal clinical trial
2 November 2005
- Analysis of five deaths of patients on Rath's trial
- For three of these patients Rath is at a minimum responsible for contributing to their deaths.
- For the other two, Rath is at a minimum responsible for misleading them and creating false hope.
- Several other deaths on Rath's trial have been reported, but we only discuss here ones which we have investigated.
- Minister of Health has responsibility for failing to stop Rath.
- Rath's pseudo-science in conjunction with other pseudo-scientific practices throughout South Africa is causing confusion and costing many lives. This pseudo-science flourishes because it is perceived to be endorsed by the Minister of Health and President Mbeki.
Matthias Rath is a pharmaceutical proprietor who claims that micronutrients alone treat AIDS. He claims that antiretrovirals, the treatments recognised by every competent medical authority for treating HIV/AIDS, are toxic and make AIDS worse. He makes similar claims for heart-disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases.
Rath has in conjunction with his agents --which include some South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO) branches, Anthony Brink, David Rasnick, Sam Mhlongo and others-- conducted an unauthorised and illegal clinical trial in Khayelitsha and other areas in the Western Cape. This trial involves making false claims to prospective patients that vitamins reverse the course of AIDS, taking blood samples from patients, taking photographs of patients semi-naked for the purpose of before and after photographs and distributing unregistered drugs to patients. Rath's drugs, according to their labels, consist of vitamins, amino acids, a schedule two substance called N-acetylcysteine and other micronutrients. Based on affidavits we have received, these drugs are prescribed in unusually high dosages. This is in line with Rath's stated theories and past practices.
TAC has confirmed and analysed the deaths of five people who have died on Matthias Rath's illegal clinical trial. In two of these cases, Rath is as least responsible for having created false hope. In the other three, Rath is partly responsible for their deaths. In at least two further cases, patients held up by Rath as models of success on his programme were, and are, actually taking antiretrovirals. These two patients are alive.
TAC supports government's rollout of antiretroviral treatment. We also support the policy of making multivitamins available to people with HIV in the public health sector. But we take a dim view of people who claim or imply that the risks antiretrovirals outweigh their benefits or who make unproven claims about their own products.
Case one - the death of Marietta Ndziba
Ndziba was used --and continues to be used-- by Rath for marketing his products. In a pamphlet distributed by Rath and his agents in September, she was quoted as saying that her CD4 count rose from 365 to 841 due to Rath's vitamins. She implied that these vitamins treated boils on her arm, her grey skin, diarrhoea and vomiting. She said "I just thank God that he brings vitamins here to South Africa to help our lives." As far as we can ascertain Ndziba never took antiretrovirals. She died about two weeks ago. Her family continues to be in denial about the cause of her death, with one family member reportedly claiming that she died of a stress headache. Rath's vitamins clearly did not help Ndziba. She should have been treated by qualified doctors in the public health system, not Rath or his agents.
Astoundingly, a video recording of Ndziba claiming the benefits of Rath's vitamins continues to be available on the front page of Rath's South African website to this day.
Case two - the death of Ntombekhaya (we withhold her surname to protect her family's privacy)Ntombekhaya commenced treated for TB in 2004 at a public health clinic. She was HIV-positive and was going to start antiretroviral treatment once her TB treatment was completed. Her CD4 count was 45 in October 2004 and she had lost weight. In early March 2005, she made contact with Rath's agents. From that point she stopped taking medicines from the Site B public health clinic in Khayelitsha. She was quite sick when she started taking Rath's drugs, and she started becoming much sicker. Her health deteriorated under the care of the Rath Foundation. It has been alleged that they put her on a drip at one stage. Her family member caring for her was advised by Rath's agents not to call an ambulance if she got sicker, but to call them instead. She died on 27 March. Rath and his agents are partly responsible for her death by taking her off the medicines she was taking at the Site B clinic at a time that she was critically ill and delaying her initiation of antiretroviral treatment. We have confirmed the details of this case.
Case three - the death of Patient XPatient X presented at Nolungile HIV clinic on 30 September 2005. He was in such a deteriorated state due to advanced AIDS that his treating doctor investigated his clinical history. Here it is:
He was admitted to Jooste Hospital on 12 September 2005. His baseline CD4 count was 22 and he had a haemoglobin count of 2. He required three blood transfusions. He was diagnosed with HIV encephalopathy and disseminated tuberculosis. It turned out that Patient X had been treated by a Rath clinic for two months prior to presenting at hospital. It is during this critical period that he missed an opportunity to be treated in the public health sector. He died on 8 October 2005. He never had an opportunity to commence antiretroviral treatment because he had not recovered from his several opportunistic infections.
Rath is at least partly responsible for Patient X's death by having caused his delay in seeking assistance from the public health system.
Case four - the death of Noluthando (surname withheld at this stage to protect family's privacy, but family is prepared to go public)Noluthando was diagno