MBEKIíS NOT MISINFORMED
The Citizen 5 Nov. 1999
President Thabo Mbeki is not misinformed about AZT. Last week, when he said
there might be legal implications in giving the drug to Aids patients,
manufacturers Glaxo Wellcome said flatly that there were no cases.
Their verdict has been repeated as gospel by interested parties, including
newspapers. In fact there have been several cases and there will be more.
Leading the charge is Deane Collie of the International Coalition for
Medical Justice (ICMJ) in Virginia, US. I spoke to her yesterday. The ICMJ
is preparing more than one class action in more than one jurisdiction
specifically concerning the dangers of AZT. Much of this arises out of
neurological damage to African American children who were used on AZT
trials. Apparently some of them cannot talk and others cannot walk. These
maladies are being attributed to AZT.
Ms Collie says the manufacturers have been involved in many law suits but
that they have a history of settling out of court, on terms which silence
the complainants. She says the ICMJ will not settle out of court.
Among the many other cases past and pending.:
The Globe and Mail in Toronto, Canada, reported last week on a mother who
had taken her children into hiding . She does not want them to be given AZT,
among other drugs, because she believes it is toxic. She was given an
ultimatum: put the kids on AZT or weíll take them away. According to the
Globe and Mail, there are currently nine in legal cases under way where
parents are fighting to make their own decisions about HIV-related
In September last year Valerie Emerson of Maine, US, won the right, in
court, to refuse to let her son be given an AZT "cocktail". She rejected
conventional Aids therapy after the gruesome death of her daughter who had
been on AZT
In 1994 Sue Threakall, from Birmingham, UK, served a writ on Wellcome after
the death of her husband, which she blamed on AZT. Her solicitors withdrew
the action because the hospital where Mr Threakall was treated did not take
proper readings "and prescribed above recommended levels, which acts
When it emerged that President Mbeki had obtained some of his information
from the Internet, this was greeted with derision in certain newspapers. I
do not know which sites Mbeki has been visiting but here are some
interesting ones, http://www.virusmyth.com and
Of course there are a lot of cranks cruising the information highway but
there are also some respectable names challenging conventional ideas about
AZT and Aids. University of California molecular biologist Peter Duesberg,
the first person to map the gene structure of retroviruses, is convinced
that AZT causes "poisoning" by destroying bone marrow and blood cell
systems. Kary Mullis, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1993 for
inventing the polymerase chain reaction used to test for HIV, is also a
doubter. So, too, is Dr Walter Gilbert, Professor in molecular biology, who
won1980 Nobel prize for chemistry.
This is not to suggest that all these people share exactly the same views
about AZT. Nor do the hundreds of other scientists engaged in the debate
The important point is that there is a debate, and our President has taken
cognisance. Praised for his intellect when he invokes literary allusions or
espouses visions of a renaissance, he should not to be so lightly dismissed
when he plugs into other intellectual pursuits.
Misinformed? Donít make that judgment until youíve tried to understand the
exchange of ideas. Check it out.