This is the “missing chapter” about vitamin pill salesman Matthias Rath. Sadly I was unable to write about him at the time that book was initially published, as he was suing my ass in the High Court. The chapter is now available in the new paperback edition, and I’ve posted it here for free so that nobody loses out.
Although the publishers make a slightly melodramatic fuss about this in the promo material, it is a very serious story about the dangers of pseudoscience, as I hope you’ll see, and it was also a pretty unpleasant episode, not just for me, but also for the many other people he’s tried to sue, including Medecins Sans Frontieres and more. If you’re ever looking for a warning sign that you’re on the wrong side of an argument, suing Medecins Sans Frontieres is probably a pretty good clue.
Anyway, here it is, please steal it, print it, repost it, whatever, it’s free under a Creative Commons license, details at the end. If you prefer it is available as a PDF here, or as a word document here. Happy Easter!
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It’s just been publicly announced that the vitamin pill magnate Matthias Rath has pulled out of his gruelling legal case against me and the Guardian. He bought full page adverts denouncing Aids drugs while promoting his vitamin pills in South Africa, a country where hundreds of thousands die every year from Aids under an HIV denialist president and the population is ripe for miracle cures. I said his actions were highly worrying, in no uncertain terms. I believe I was right to do so.
This libel case has drawn on for over a year, with the writ hanging both in my toilet, and over my head. Although fighting it has been fascinating, and in many respects a great pleasure, it has also taken a phenomenal amount of my time, entirely unpaid, to deal with it. For the duration of the case I have also been silenced on the serious issues that Rath’s activities raise, the chapter on his work was pulled from my book, and I have been unable to comment on his further movements around the world.
This will now change, Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a thing: video of Matthias Rath speaking at a rally in London on Saturday March 24 2007 to rapturous applause.
For those who don’t remember, Matthias Rath is the German vitamin entrepreneur who sells his proprietary vitamin pills to people dying of AIDS in South Africa Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a bit of a data dump of some of the critical news coverage that Patrick Holford’s “Food Is Better Than Medicine” tour of South Africa has picked up. They’re not very impressed in Africa by his claim that vitamin C is better than AZT, and Holford seems a bit conflicted over it himself. Here’s a typical news quote…
He has also denied news reports which he said implied he had been saying vitamin C was more effective in treating Aids than the ARV medication, AZT. “This is not true,” he said at the weekend. “I have never made this claim. “What I have said in the latest edition of my book, the New Optimum Nutrition Bible… is that ‘AZT, the first prescribable anti-HIV drug, is potentially harmful and proving less effective than vitamin C’.”
And reassuringly, meanwhile, Rath researcher Raxit Jariwalla seems to have backed down somewhat. Here is his Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday February 17, 2007
Look, I realise this is beginning to feel like one of those big containers where the Americans play Britney at you over and over again until you confess to crimes you haven’t committed. I’m totally ready to Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday January 27, 2007
I’m not a complicated man – as my girlfriend could happily tell you – but I do get a bit worried about these stories I’ve been emailed, where African people say something stupid about the science of Aids and we all laugh at them. To be fair, the facts don’t make it easy for me to be this sanctimonious. The Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, has just this week disclosed that he can personally cure HIV, Aids and asthma, using charisma, magic and charms. “The cure is a day’s treatment” he says: “asthma, five minutes”. HIV and Aids cases can be treated on Thursdays, and within three days Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday January 20, 2007
If you think the nutritionists and vitamin peddlers in the UK are weird, you really want to go to South Africa, where President Thabo Mbeki has a long history of siding with the HIV denialists, who believe that HIV does not cause Aids (but that treatments for it do), and where his health minister talks up fruit and vegetables as a treatment, as we have previously covered here.
In this world, Zackie Achmat is a hero: Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday August 26th, 2006
What happens if you transplant western ideas like nutritionism, and anti-vaccination panics, into a developing world context? Unfortunately thatâ€™s not a thought experiment. Between 600 and 800 people die every day in South Africa from HIV/AIDS, and their government was roundly criticised at last weeks International AIDS conference in Toronto.
Everyone knows that the South African government is headed by a longstanding denialist of the link between HIV and AIDS, Thabo Mbeki, who held back anti-retroviral treatment for many years; but less well known is the fact that his health minster, Tshabalala-Msimang, is also a staunch advocate for weekend glossy magazine-style nutritionism, an ardent critic of medical drugs, and a close associate of a controversial vitamin salesman.
South Africaâ€™s stand at the conference was described by delegates as the â€œsalad stallâ€, and consisted of some garlic, some beetroot, the African potato, and other vegetable action. Some boxes of Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday June 30, 2005
Â· And so to Africa, where there are “complementary and alternative medicine” practitioners pursuing the fashionable attack on mainstream medicine, just like in the UK. Take Matthias Rath and the Rath Foundation vitamin empire: they’ve been running advertising campaigns in newspapers and poster campaigns near HIV/Aids treatment centres, telling people that anti-retroviral drugs undermine the body’s immune system, and that “micro-nutrients alone can Read the rest of this entry »