The Tara KLamp Story: An update

Tara KLamp

In November 2010, we published a four-part story describing how the Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) government was using a dangerous and expensive circumcision device called the Tara KLamp. We re-run the story today with a brief update. Despite it being nearly a year since the first reports of KZN using the device, no one has been held accountable and there has been no resolution to this breach of medical ethics.

The problem with experts

Oracle of Delphi

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is an excellent institution. Most of its rulings are sensible and usually issued efficiently. However, there are some loopholes in the advertising code that occasionally allow companies to continue making dubious claims.

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Patients before paradigms

It is often argued that complementary or alternative medicines should not be judged or regulated according to the same criteria as pharmaceutical medicines. The argument is logically flawed and it also puts the interests of health providers ahead of patients.

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Should you get vaccinated against flu?

Glass sculpture of flu virus

Flu season is nearly upon us. Many pharmacies and doctors offer flu vaccines and so do some public health facilities. Is the flu vaccine beneficial and if so who would benefit most from it? What vaccines should we not be using?

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A dozen facts about Solal and their "critics"

Solal Snake Oil Cartoon

Harris Steinman, who has for many years been monitoring and taking action against unsubstantiated medical claims, sets the record straight on Solal Technologies.

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Dis-Chem responds to open letter

Photo of Patrick Holford

Last Friday we published an open letter by the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society and the Treatment Action Campaign to Dis-Chem. The letter asked, "Why is Dis-Chem promoting Patrick Holford?"

Dis-Chem have responded. We reproduce their response here.

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How Solal Technologies uses legal threats to stifle legitimate criticism


Solal Technologies sells supplements that it claims are remedies or prophylactics for a whole range of diseases, including HIV, cancer, hypertension and depression. Naturally, Solal has faced criticism for these claims.

Solal's response has been to instruct their attorneys to send lawyers' letters threatening to sue their critics.

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Why is Dis-Chem promoting Patrick Holford?

Dis-chem logo

A few weeks ago, Dis-Chem, one of the largest pharmacy chains in South Africa, hosted Patrick Holford. Holford has made a career out of making unsubstantiated and false claims about the benefits of vitamins. 

The Southern African HIV Clinicians Society and the TAC have sent an open letter to the CEO of Dis-Chem, Ivan Saltzman. In it they ask him why his company, which is trusted by the public to provide evidence-based sound medical advice, hosted Holford.

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Funny flyers

These are a sample of the flyers handed out to pedestrians in central Cape Town all the time. Similar ones are distributed in Johannesburg and Durban too. 

They are funny, but there are sometimes serious consequences for patients deceived by these charlatans. See this story by Health-e: 

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How to stop false advertising

The Charlatan

Many advertisements, especially for health products, make claims that are implausible or plain false. Catherine Tomlinson's article on Quackdown, Spotting fake cures for HIV, gave some examples of these. Some of these ads can be stopped, but only by vigilant people who are prepared to take the time to lodge complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA).

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