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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Thai Aids 'cure' disputed
The drug is being handed out in Bangkok
A treatment touted as a "miracle cure" for Aids by a Bangkok pharmacist has been attacked by official agencies tackling the disease.

Local people infected with HIV, or who have developed full-blown Aids, have been flocking to see Vichai Jirotthi-tikal, to get supplies of his drug "V-1 Immunitor".

However, the drug has never undergone any clinical trials, and although Vichai says that some patients have enjoyed radical improvements in their health, this has not been independently verified.

I have a great deal of sympathy for those who want treatment, but it is misleading to make these sorts of claims

Bernard Gardiner, International Red Cross
Instead the pharmacist has been criticised for "offering false hope" to the estimated 1m in Thailand who have HIV/Aids.

The drug is a mixture of calcium, magnesium and traces of the virus itself.

When a week's supply was offered free of charge in the city last week, 4,000 people, many seriously ill with the disease, tried to get hold of the drug.

Vichai said : "The data from the blood tests show we can help patients who are HIV positive to develop themselves and have a healthy life. They are normal - they can work."

No tests

He claims that the virus has been "eliminated" in two patients, and that symptoms have been eased in other patients.

However, there have not only been no clinical trials of V-1 to test its safety and efficacy, but it is not licensed as a treatment by the Thai government.

Bernard Gardiner, regional manager for HIV/Aids for the Red Cross, said: "I have a great deal of sympathy for those who want treatment, but it is misleading to make these sorts of claims."

That country's health ministry says it plans to study the drug, and has been urged to do so quickly by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Vichai says he will continue to dispense it as long as there is a demand.

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02 Jul 99 | Aids
What is Aids?
04 Jun 01 | Health
Aids: 20 years on
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