Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Kenya: ... another claim of AIDS "wonder drug" discovery

A few days back, Dr. Arthur Obel announced that he had discovered some HIV/AIDS wonder drugs.
Lentura II, he claimed, will improve the immune status of HIV-positive patients by raising the concentration of CD4 cells, while Magenta will eliminate the virus and help minimize risks of mutation. A third drug, Nectum Cygnul, is supposed to improve the general status of a patient. (link)
Dr. Obel introduced a patient, a remarried widower, whom he said had been healed of HIV/AIDS by the drugs. But despite these wondrous claims, and "proof", the news was received quietly.

This isn't the first time Dr. Obel has made such a big "discovery". Back in 1996, Dr. Obel announced that he had found a cure for AIDS which he called "Pearl Omega". Faced with mounting evidence to the contrary, Dr. Obel later amended his claim and said the drug cured opportunistic infections associated with the disease. But it doesn't even do that and Pearl Omega is now counted as full-fledged quackery.

The Daily Standard story on Dr. Obel's new discovery carried quotes from Dr Davy Koech, director of the The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
He said Prof Obel should have presented samples of his drugs for clinical trials by Kemri or any other reputable scientific organisation.

He said a new drug must be subjected to scientific scrutiny before clinical trials are done following approval by Ethical Clearance Committee.

But Koech was quick to acknowledge the contribution made by local doctors, including Obel, in the search for a cure for Aids.

He said when Kemron's discovery was announced, it was dismissed by international organisations.
Only thing is, Dr. Koech and the "drug" Kemron are now the stuff of legend.

In 1990, Dr. Koech and KEMRI announced a breakthrough with Kemron. He claimed AIDS patients who used Kemron had all their AIDS symptoms disappear within weeks. He also claimed that eight out of 40 patients "serodeconverted" -- that their HIV status changed from positive to negative. The government of Kenya came out to support him and there was a whole lot of hype ... and a couple of years later, all his claims were debunked.

These fabulous claims of cures and the such have appeared periodically across Africa ... here is a darn good article (a few years old) that tells of a few of them. Scary thing is that some of these claims are made by trained doctors/researchers.

This is stating the obvious but state it I must. These quacks aren't just an African phenomenon. Claims of miracle drugs/cures have appeared all over the world. Wherever there are people trying to cope with scary and little known diseases, a quack will appear with a cure.