Thai Foundation Has Stopped Distributing Reported ‘AIDS Cure’ V-1 Immunitor
The Salang Bunnag Foundation in Bangkok, Thailand, said Friday that it has stopped distributing the controversial AIDS drug V-1 Immunitor after research by the charity found that the pill is "useless," the Associated Press reports. "We found we were fooled by the company producing the pill. We have stopped distributing it," Dr. Sek Aksaranukroh, a doctor working as a volunteer for the foundation, said. According to Vichai Jirathitikal, the pharmacologist who invented V-1, the pill works by attacking HIV in the digestive tract rather than in the bloodstream (Wannabovorn, Associated Press, 8/30). The foundation had promoted the pill as a cure for AIDS, even though the Thai Public Health Ministry determined that the pill does not have an effect on white blood cells or viral load. The Thai government had allowed the foundation to market the pill as a food supplement but not as an AIDS medicine (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/16/01). Aksaranukroh said the foundation initially supported V-1 because foundation researchers saw "signs of improvement" in 31 HIV patients, but observation of 71 other patients found that the pill caused "no improvement" and that some of the patients died. He added that while the pill made patients "feel stronger and fresh," it did not cure HIV.
AIDS Activists Say Pill Gave 'False Hope'
Many HIV/AIDS activists say that V-1 Immunitor has given patients "false hope" while they could have been receiving "legitimate treatments to ease their symptoms" (Associated Press, 8/30). The vast majority of HIV-positive people in Thailand cannot afford the cost of traditional HIV/AIDS medications, leading many to seize on the promises made by V-1's manufacturers. The claims for V-1's benefits "outraged" many health experts, who said that the pills are "setting back the cause of AIDS treatment" in the country (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/28/01). It is not known whether the Thai Health Ministry will take action against the foundation or Jirathitikal (Associated Press, 8/30).