S. African Court Reserves Judgment on Treatment Action Campaign Case Against Vitamin Advocate
A South African court on Tuesday reserved judgment in the South African HIV/AIDS treatment advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign's defamation lawsuit against German vitamin advocate Matthias Rath, who has accused TAC of being a front for pharmaceutical companies, Reuters AlertNet reports. Judge Siraj Desai said the court will rule on the case within the "next few weeks" (Reuters AlertNet, 6/21). TAC has asked the Cape Town High Court to issue a temporary injunction to prevent Rath and the California-based Dr. Rath Health Foundation from making defamatory statements about TAC. In some of his advertisements, including full-page ads in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, Rath claims antiretroviral drugs are toxic and suggests that TAC has misled people to believe that "exorbitantly expensive and highly toxic drugs like AZT and nevirapine" can successfully treat HIV infection. TAC has encouraged the South African government to provide access to antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive people in the country. Rath and his foundation have filed a response to TAC's request, saying that the foundation's claims about antiretrovirals are true and their criticism of TAC is allowed under the country's constitutional right to free expression (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/31). After the court's announcement, TAC Chair Zackie Achmat said his organization will push for Rath to be arrested, South Africa's Cape Times reports (Schroeder/Maclennan, Cape Times, 6/22). TAC has accused Rath's staff of involving township residents in "unauthorized, pseudo-medical experiments," the SAPA/Mail & Guardian reports. The Medicines Control Council is looking into Rath's activities (SAPA/Mail & Guardian, 6/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.