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Matthias Rath (1955-) is a
notorious quack vitamin pill magnate who unsuccessfully tried to sue The Grauniad after nerd cheerleader and quackbuster Ben Goldacre cited strong evidence that he was responsible for deadly misinformation and health fraud profiteering.
Rath is a peddler of vitamin pills, which he claims to have near-magical curative power. He is an influential AIDS denialist, being in no small part responsible for the South African government's shameful and deadly policy on AIDS under President Thabo Mbeki. Public health researchers have attributed 330,000 to 340,000 AIDS deaths, along with 171,000 other HIV infections and 35,000 infant HIV infections, to the South African government's former embrace of AIDS denialism.
His campaign against South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign and founder Zackie Achmat was vicious to the point of being almost surreal. Former employee Anthony Brink actually filed a charge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague accusing Achmat of genocide, based on his support for use of antiretrovirals. Rath and his associates accused TAC of taking money from pharmaceutical companies (an allegation which is categorically false) and acting as shills for Big Pharma despite TAC's widely publicised and trenchant criticism of the pharmaceutical industry. The following section is genuine and apparently sincerely meant:
“”In view of the scale and gravity of Achmat's crime and his direct personal criminal culpability for 'the deaths of thousands of people', to quote his own words, it is respectfully submitted that the International Criminal Court ought to impose on him the highest sentence provided by Article 77.1(b) of the Rome Statute, namely to permanent confinement in a small white steel and concrete cage, bright fluorescent light on all the time to keep an eye on him, his warders putting him out only to work every day in the prison garden to cultivate nutrient-rich vegetables, including when it's raining. In order for him to repay his debt to society, with the ARVs he claims to take administered daily under close medical watch at the full prescribed dose, morning noon and night, without interruption, to prevent him faking that he's being treatment compliant, pushed if necessary down his forced-open gullet with a finger, or, if he bites, kicks and screams too much, dripped into his arm after he’s been restrained on a gurney with cable ties around his ankles, wrists and neck, until he gives up the ghost on them, so as to eradicate this foulest, most loathsome, unscrupulous and malevolent blight on the human race, who has plagued and poisoned the people of South Africa, mostly black, mostly poor, for nearly a decade now, since the day he and his TAC first hit the scene.
|—Signed at Cape Town, South Africa, on 1 January 2007, Anthony Brink|
So much for Rath's organisation.
Rath's lawsuit prevented Goldacre from including a chapter on Rath in Bad Science. Happily the lawsuit having been dropped and the Guradian's costs paid, Rath has effectively accepted that he has no case, so Goldacre has published the missing chapter online.
- Bad Science, September 2008
- Estimating the Lost Benefits of Antiretroviral Drug Use in South Africa by P. Chigwedere et al. (2008). Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 49(4):410–415.
- Matthias Rath – Steal This Chapter originally intended for the book Bad Science by Ben Goldacre]