Snake Oil Kills

Dr. Matthias Rath, a vitamin pill entrepreneur in newspaper ads proclaimed that “the answer to the AIDS epidemic is here.” The ads asked, “Why should South Africans continue to be poisoned with AZT? There is a natural answer to AIDS.” That answer was multivitamin supplements, which he said “cut the risk of developing AIDS in half.”

“Tragically,” as Dr. Goldacre writes, Dr. Rath found a willing ear in Thabo Mbeki. Dr. Rath’s influence was pervasive. Various studies have estimated that had the South African government used antiretroviral drugs for prevention and treatment, more than 300,000 unnecessary deaths could have been prevented.

Full New York Times review of Ben Goldacre’s new book, Bad Science.

Comments (3)

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  1. Tom H. says:

    What happened in South Africa was a tragedy.

  2. Nancy says:

    Why can’t this vitamin pusher be found guilty of fraud?

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    The book being reviewed, Bad Science, looks interesting. Of course critics also point out you could easily write a similar book that illustrates how some FDA-approved drugs work little better than a placebo.