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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 19:27 GMT 20:27 UK
Thai Aids 'cure' declared useless
pills
The pills were handed out free to thousands of Aids sufferers
Public health officials in Thailand say a so-called "miracle cure" for Aids has been found to be useless - dashing the hopes of thousands of sufferers.

The V-1 Immunitor Pill was created by a Thai pharmacist, who claimed that it was the first cure for the deadly disease. It was given free in mass handouts to thousands of Aids patients.


We want to point out that V-1 is merely a food supplement and it is not harmful to take, but I want to reaffirm that it's not a drug

Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan.
But Deputy Public Health Minister Surapong Suebwonglee said that in fact the pill had no significant effect on Aids sufferers.

"From physical examinations and laboratory tests of Aids patients who have taken V-1 Immunitor, it can be concluded that the pill does not have any effect on the body's immune system, white blood cell count and amount of the virus in the blood," the minister said in a statement.

Thailand is grappling with one of the region's worst Aids problems, with one in 60 of its population already infected.

Food supplement

The tests were carried out on 50 patients who had been taking the pill.

As a result, the government has ordered that the pill must now only be marketed as a food supplement.

"We want to point out that V-1 is merely a food supplement and it is not harmful to take, but I want to reaffirm that it's not a drug," said Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan.

An HIV-infected man being carried
One in 60 Thais is infected with Aids

But the government says it will test the patients again to verify the tests.

"Another examination and test should be conducted in the next two to four months," Mr Surapong said.

The results of the test were immediately challenged.

A Thai epidemiologist, Dr Orapun Mettadilokun, told the BBC's East Asia Today programme that he had carried out an independent study and found the drug to have a positive effect.

'Inconclusive'

The Salang Bunnag Foundation, a charitable organisation that has backed the pill and distributed it to thousands of people in Bangkok and the northern city of Chiang Mai, said the ministry's findings were inconclusive.

"We take it with a grain of salt, because they said they need to study it for a few more months," a spokesman for the foundation said.

"The data they received is a one-off, and it does not determine the efficacy of the product," he added.

The chairman of the foundation, former police general Salang Bunnag, also rejected the ministry's findings, saying an independent committee of government offices and his foundation should be established to test the pill.

See also:

09 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thais queue for HIV 'cure'
05 Jun 01 | Health
Thai Aids 'cure' disputed
02 Jul 99 | Aids
What is Aids?
04 Jun 01 | Health
Aids: 20 years on
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