The Treatment Action Campaign and the South African Medical Association (SAMA) have filed court papers against the Minister of Health, the Medicines Control Council (MCC), the Western Cape MEC for Health, as well as pharmaceutical proprietor and AIDS denialist Matthias Rath, and several of his employees and associates.
In a statement, the TAC says it takes the action with great reluctance, but believes that it is duty-bound to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS. It adds that the Minister and the statutory bodies that she oversees have had ample opportunity to avoid this litigation but have chosen not to do so.
The TAC aims to stop the controversial Matthias Rath’s activities and to force government to take action against him. It claims Rath has been openly conducting illegal activities in South Africa to the knowledge of the Minister, Western Cape provincial health department and the Medicines Control Council. These include making false statements about ARV medicines, distributing medicines unregistered for the treatment of HIV, persuading patients not to seek the services of the public health system, and conducting an experiment on humans without the authorisation of the Medicines Control Council. The TAC further claims that a number of people have died directly as a result of Rath’s illegal activities.
The action asks the court to find that Matthias Rath and his foundation are breaching the law by conducting an illegal clinical trial and distributing medicines in violation of the Medicines Act. The TAC is seeking an interdict against Rath, his foundation and various Rath agents to stop them from continuing their activities and from publishing false claims.
The TAC has also asked the court to find that the Minister of Health and Director-General have a duty to take measures against these illegal activities and that these authorities report to the court, within a month of judgment, on what steps they have taken to ensure that the requested court order against Rath and his agents is carried out.
Cosatu and the Young Communist League have come out in support of the Treatment Action Campaign’s court case.