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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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« More on Outsourcing | Main | Procter and Gamble Throws in the Towel »

March 1, 2006

Deception Begins at Home

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Posted by Derek

I recently had an opportunity to look into some self-described autism treatments on behalf of a friend. There are huge numbers of desperate and hopeful parents out there, and there are some desperate and hopeful people selling things to them, too. The stuff I looked at was not, as far as I could tell, a cold-hearted scam, and considering the things you find in such disease areas, that's saying something. I think that the person involved believes, and wants to believe, that he's doing good in the world, and I'm sure his customers want to believe the same things.

At the same time, unfortunately, I don' t think much good is being done, but I can't get as enraged about it as I can some other situations. Take vitamin fraudster Matthia Rath, for example. He has recently withdrawn his lawsuits against a number of people and organizations in South Africa, in a sudden and unexpected move. Among them are the Health-e News Service, the group that broke the story of how some of Rath's alleged anti-HIV success stories involved patients who were taking antiretroviral drugs the whole time. Also off the hook is Dr. Eric Goemare of Medicines sans Frontieres, sued for defamation after characterizing Rath as a liar and a killer (which descriptions I find perfectly fitting, myself).

Says Goemare: "We are pleased that this phenomenal waste of time has ended." Dr. Rath is, of course, an expert at wasting things: people's time, their money, their hopes, their lives. I'd extend that list to include the oxygen he consumes by continuing to walk among us, but perhaps that's just me.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Snake Oil


1. CJ Croy on March 2, 2006 2:43 AM writes...

Touching on autism and HIV/AIDS in a single post? I predict that your traffic is going to spike in a big way.


Over on Corante competitor Science Blogs, Orac makes a habit of debunking dodgy alternative treatments including treatments for autism. He recently commented on chemical castration as a proposed treatment for autism. Unlike you, I'm not charitable enough to think there's any explanation for this and many other treatments other than cold-blooded huckstering.

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2. Tara on March 3, 2006 12:12 PM writes...

It's sad, isn't it? I got interested in epidemiology and "quack" medicine at the same time--when I was only a teenager investigating similar treatment claims for my mom's MS. Like with autism, it runs the spectrum from people who think treatment X has really helped them, and want to pass it along to others, to people who are very obviously unethical frauds interested only in making a buck. Terrible.

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3. Sigivald on March 3, 2006 12:57 PM writes...

Rath isn't wasting oxygen. He's transmuting it into valuable carbon dioxide that useful plants will use to grow.

Possibly the only useful thing he does, but there it is.

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