Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mattias Rath:"Cure for Aids" (2008)

Matthias Rather, controversial German Doctor
According to 2012 figures, over 700 children in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV/AIDS every day. An estimated 36 million people have died so far and 1.6 million people died of HIV/AIDS in 2012.
Matthias Rath is a German doctor born in 1955. He made his way to into medical headlines by becoming one of the most notoriously controversial doctors in the world in 2008. Rath has been responsible for the death of many AIDs patients in predominantly South Africa for his unrecognized treatment without any scientific evidence. Rath claims that his program of nutritional supplements (which he calls cellular medicine) can treat diabetes, cardiovascular disease, multiple types of cancer and HIV/Aids. His theories on the treatment of cancer using vitamins have been rejected by health authorities all over the world such as Swiss Study Group for Complementary and Alternative Methods in Cancer (SKAK) and The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the South African Medical Association (SAMA). Rath strongly advertises his products in South Africa where HIV/Aids runs rampant. In South Africa HIV/AIDs kills 300,000 people every year which equates to eight hundred people every day, or one every two minutes. The scariest of all is that the number of adults with AIDs in South Africa has risen 25% since 1990. Matthias Rath entered a country advertising and passing out pamphlets in the streets claiming he had the ability to save thousands of lives when in reality he was way off the mark.
In 2005, Rath's foundation distributed tens of thousands of pamphlets in poor black South African towns, claiming that HIV medication was "poison" and urging HIV-positive people instead to use vitamins such as those Rath sells to treat HIV/AIDS. The Rath foundation recruited HIV patients by bribing them with clean food and water to participate in clinical testing. Sources have reported that a case in which a pregnant woman newly diagnosed with HIV was visited at home by Rath Health Foundation employees and convinced her to stop taking her antiretroviral medication in favor of Rath's vitamins; she died 3 months later. Thirteen of other patients used in the clinical trials died as well due to a lack of effective medication.

"The answer to the AIDS epidemic is here,” he proclaimed. Anti-retroviral drugs were poisonous, and a conspiracy to kill patients and make money. “Multivitamin treatment is more effective than any toxic AIDS drug. Multivitamins cut the risk of developing AIDS in half.”
To support his claims, Rath cited studies done by Harvard Medical School which concluded that multivitamins help to slow the progression of HIV and Aids. However in May 2005, the authors of Harvard’s study came out with the statement condemning Rath’s "irresponsible and misleading statements, as in our view they deliberately misinterpret findings from our studies to advocate against the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy.” In the authors opinion Rath had over exaggerated the extent to which multi vitamin supplements help to combat Aids.
Rath has participated in 10 different court cases dating back to 2000. Most of them were settled for undisclosed amounts. Rath has been hiding behind his fundamental rights, more specifically freedom of speech however he lost court cases for £100,000 and £200,000 in 2006 and 2008.

According to an individualist, Rath should continue his practices to make his investors’ money. However his investors should reevaluate his business to determine if it is socially responsible. "Business needs to be socially responsible because it affects us all" stated by Amartya Sen. Modern medicine is different from other businesses because the stakes are so high. There must be an obligation to stakeholders because they are the ones most affected by business decisions. The goal of business is to profit, however when peoples lives are on the line, maximizing investor wealth becomes priority number two.

Population in Africa with HIV/AIDS
Notice the extreme inline in South Africs 

The utilitarian ethical theory states that decisions should be made based on maximizing the number of happy people and having the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain. Happiness is the only thing of intrinsic value in the minds of Utilitarians. According to utilitarianism, Rath should stop his practices right away. The stakeholders in this case are the people who he has harmed by convincing them to switch to his medicine. In this case they are harmed and some of them even lost their lives. There have been dozens of large protests in Cape Town, South Africa to stop Rath from continuing his highly questionable medical practices. A utilitarian thinker would ultimately want Matthias Rath went to jail. If Rath was imprisoned there wouldn’t be any more discrepancy concerning what AIDs treatment plan to use. There would be multiple more patients alive and there would be less civil unrest and controversy within South Africa. Many more people would be happy because they would be healthier and there would be more trust and commitment toward legitimate medical practices. In addition, legitimate doctor and researchers would be happy because they wouldn’t have to worry about this man undermining their work. They could now regain the trust of their patients and continue to fight against this epidemic. Therefore Rath's practices are unethical.

Kantian theory suggests that we must act rationally and not consider ourselves above the rules. In addition we must allow and help others make rational decisions. Kantian theory is driven by good will which means we must respect others autonomy because it is the right thing to do. According to Kant, Mattias Rath would not be acting ethically. Mattias Rath is not allowing Aids patients to make rational decisions. He is persuading them in a way that benefits himself and unknowingly puts them in danger. Medical institutions all over the world have come out with statements saying that his supplements are not adequate enough to cure HIV /Aids. Instead of allowing people to make their own informed decision he is giving a sales pitch using altered medical research. He is taking advantage of these people for his own personal gain. He seems desperate to be recognized like many of his collegues and he is willing to risk people’s lives for his own success. The people who he is informing have had little to no formal education in their life and this may be the only time that they have spoken with a licensed doctor from the western world. The infected people of South Africa are not well-informed enough to decifer what is legitimate and what is a gimmick. Rath does not respect others autonomy but instead is seeing the patients as tools for him to accomplish his own personal agenda. He has already killed multiple people by advising them to switch to his cellular medicine. He doesn’t seem to be motivated by good will but rather he is trying to make a name for himself and he doesn’t care how many people need to die in order for him to do it. Traditionally used treatments for HIV /Aids are working and have been keeping people alive for significantly more years. He should stop disparaging traditional methods and start looking out for the best interest of the people.

Virtue Theory
South Africans holding up red ribbons
to support HIV/AIDS awareness
Lastly, the Virtue theory encompasses 4 main virtues of character. They are courage, honest, temperance/self control and justice/fairness. Rath does not have courage. He doesn’t have the willingness to stand up for what is right and stop exploiting people. Rath does not have honesty. He is bending the truth to make it seem like his research is going to change the world when in reality he has very weak evidence that his methods do anything at all. Rath does not have temperance. His expectations and desires for himself are unrealistic. Medical experts have proven him wrong in many different studies and yet he continues to market his product. Because he is being banned from South Africa he is moving his promotion scheme to Russia. Lastly Rath doesn’t have justice. He knowingly is distributing low quality products. He has terrible perception of reality and his practices aren’t fair. He is exploiting the people. Therefore Rath's practices are unethical according to virtue theory.

Ultimately, Mattias Rath is doing something that is highly unethical whether he knows it or not. He has began to move his marketing scheme out of South Africa and into Russia where the AIDs epidemic is starting to pop up in greater numbers. Rath's wrong and misleading practices are hurting the people and the medical community as a whole.

Goldacre, Ben. "Matthias Rath – Bad Science." Matthias Rath – Bad Science. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014. <http://www.badscience.net/category/matthias-rath/>.

"Matthias Rath." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Mar. 2014. Web. 02 Apr. 2014. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthias_Rath>.

Boseley, Sarah. "Fall of the Doctor Who Said His Vitamins Would Cure Aids." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Sept. 2008. Web. 02 Apr. 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/sep/12/matthiasrath.aids2>.

"Professionalism/Matthias Rath and Cellular Medicine." - Wikibooks, Open Books for an Open World. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2014. <http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Professionalism/Matthias_Rath_and_Cellular_Medicine>.

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