Vitamin campaigner abandons libel case over AIDS drugs
Matthias Rath, the doctor who discouraged use of AIDS treatments in favour of his own nutritional pills, has dropped a libel case against The Guardian newspaper.
Dr Rath began legal action against the broadsheet a year ago, complaining that three of its articles condemning his behaviour amongst South Africans with HIV/AIDS were libelous.
Dr Rath claimed that his vitamin pill, Vitacell, could cure AIDS, prevent strokes, and eradicate heart disease and cancer.
He also claimed that conventional medicines were toxic, and distributed his own pills free in South Africa; an action which campaigners and medical experts claim led to unnecessary deaths.
The Guardian was awarded costs of £220,000 by the court. The paper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, said:
“We are very glad that Rath has dropped his libel action, doubtless designed to discourage other journalists – in Britain and abroad – from looking too closely at his dubious claims and methods.
“We will seek to recover the costs of defending our journalism.”
Several HIV/AIDS experts have publicly condemned Dr Rath’s actions.
The Guardian was advised on the case by Professor Brian Gazzard, an HIV/Aids expert.
He said that convincing people that they could defend against HIV/AIDS by taking vitamin pills was “extremely harmful”.
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He also said: “The widespread provision of anti-retrovirals in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most important public health measures of this century.”
Mark Wainberg, director of the McGill Aids centre in Montreal, said: “It is clear that [Dr Rath] has done enormous harm to people with HIV.”
John Moore, professor of microbiology and immunobiology at Cornell University in the United States, said: “The promotion of micronutrients and vitamin pills as effective remedies for HIV harms infected people.
“If they stop taking the anti-retroviral drugs that we are know are effective, their health suffers.”
Dr Rath is head of the Dr Rath Health Foundation. The organisation pledges to fight for “Health, Peace and Social Justice.”
One of the main goals of the Foundation is to achieve a “new global healthcare system”, changing the world of medicine from what it claims to be “medicine that serves the interest of the pharmaceutical industry” to one that “serves the people.”