Traditional medicine at odds with conservation

Rhinocerous libation cup 17th-18th century

Environmental watchdog groups are concerned by increasing rates of rhino poaching. In this article, Catherine Tomlinson discusses the quackery behind rhino poaching and how it is putting the future of these magnificent animals at risk.

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Francois Venter's answer to those quack pamphlets

Dr Aaron

Francois Venter is the President of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society and a fan of Quackdown. Last week he opened the South African AIDS Conference and described the problems quackery causes for HIV-positive patients. He dealt particularly with those quack pamphlets that are handed out in the main streets of the country's major cities.  Francois however has come up with a brilliant solution: a counter-pamphlet espousing the virtues of Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

The Revivo rip-off

The alchemist

There is no good reason to think that Revivo confers any survival benefit to HIV-positive people. Yet, there is a fascinating survival story to tell here - the story of how Revivo's brand of AIDS quackery has survived despite the Advertising Standards Authority ruling against them in 2009.

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Clicks should do better

Clicks apple cider and green tea capsules

Clicks is marketing an apple cider/green tea supplement to support weight loss. But the only thing that is slim is the evidence for the efficacy of this product. Surely we should expect better from a large company with a reputation to protect?

Abusing the MCC appeal process

Synap Forte

One of the ways in which companies can object to a decision made by the Medicines Control Council (MCC) is to appeal the decision in terms of Section 24 of the Medicines and Related Substances Act (Act 101 of 1965). There are time limits and prescriptions as to how long it can take for an appeal to be lodged and how rapidly the Minister of Health must respond. It is reasonable to have such a clause in the Medicines Act for legitimate objections – but it should not be abused to delay the implementation of ...

Climate science rap video

Today's article has nothing directly to do with medicines. But pseudo-science is not the preserve of drugs and CAMS. Climate change denialism is bad for everyone's health. So we're going a bit beyond our scope today and bringing you this very funny video. It's good to see that climate scientists are fighting back. We're puttting up this video in solidarity and because it's good entertainment.

A demonstration of delusion

The Desperate Man

Here is correspondence between Dr Sean Wasserman, who will hopefully be writing for us from time to time, and a Chellie de Jager who signs her emails as a Spiritual Teacher and Healer. Wasserman's email to De Jager in response to an advert is written with his tongue firmly in his cheeck. De Jager however is quite serious, we think. She is running a Lemurian Healing workshop in Cape Town. What is Lemurian Healing? According to De Jager it has ten times the power of Reiki.

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A short guide to the Consumer Protection Act

Vioxx blister pack sample

Supplement companies, homeopaths, traditional healers and pharmaceutical companies frequently get away with making unsubstantiated claims about their products. Many of these claims are in contravention of the Medicines Act, but enforcement is virtually non-existent. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) does provide some protection, but their authority is limited.

Things may however be changing. We bring you a guide to the Consumer Protection Act and how you can use it.

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Christ Embassy adverts must be withdrawn - Final Appeal Committee of the ASA

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

The Final Appeal Committee of the Advertising Standards Authority has ordered the Christ Embassy advertisement on of 22 November 2009 to be withdrawn in its current format. Essentially that means that Christ Embassy will not be able to run adverts on television that make faith-healing claims.

The ruling is important for several reasons. It clarifies questions about religious freedom, what constitutes an advert and, importantly for people who lodge complaints against quack adverts, appendix F of the Advertising Code.

The EU Directive, Avaaz and the myth of the Mama & Papa herbalists


Avaaz is an online activist movement that campaigns in defence of human rights. They have organised massive petitions against corrective rape, in support of the Egyptian uprising, against the stoning of an Iranian woman and much more. Sometimes their petitions achieve concrete results. Avaaz demonstrates how new communication technologies can be used to hold powerful interests to account. They do good work.

So it is distressing that Avaaz is running a petition that lends support to quacks.

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