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David Rasnick fails to declare conflict of interests

31 July 2009

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David Rasnick is a co-author with Peter Duesberg and others of an article in Medical Hypothesis which claims that HIV is not the cause of AIDS. The abstract of the article states, "we call into question the claim that HIV antibody-positives would benefit from anti-HIV drugs, because these drugs are inevitably toxic and because there is as yet no proof that HIV causes AIDS." [1]

We note an undeclared conflict of interests in this article by David Rasnick. Rasnick was a researcher for a company called the Rath Health Health Foundation Africa. This organisation promoted and distributed (and in terms of South African law, sold) micronutrient products as alternatives to antiretroviral treatment in South Africa. It also conducted an unauthorised clinical trial using these products as alternatives to antiretrovirals on people with HIV. The company never published the results of this trial in a peer-reviewed medical journal, but instead published adverts purporting to report the trial's results, a practice that is considered unethical in medical research. Rasnick is described in these adverts as one of the researchers on the trial.

A case was brought by the Treatment Action Campaign and South African Medical Association against the company's owner, Matthias Rath, the Rath Health Foundation Africa, Rasnick and others in the Cape High Court in which the court was requested to interdict the unauthorised trial from continuing. The court found in favour of the plaintiffs and ruled that the defendants, including Rasnick, had indeed conducted an unauthorised clinical trial. [2] Several deaths occurred on the trial which have been documented by the TAC and others. [3] This is not the first time Rasnick has been involved in academic misconduct. He has previously misrepresented his affiliation with the University of California Berkley. [4]

The Nuremberg code was established partly in response to Nazi experimentation on human subjects during World War II. It establishes the minimum standards experiments involving humans should adhere to. It states:


2. The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.

3. The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animal experimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the disease or other problem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance of the experiment.

4. The experiment should be so conducted as to avoid all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury.

5. No experiment should be conducted where there is an a priori reason to believe that death or disabling injury will occur ... [5]

The unauthorised trial in which Rasnick was involved breaches nearly every clause of the Nurember code, particularly those above. Proper informed consent from the trial participants was also not obtained. There can be few crimes by a medical researchers as heinous as running an unauthorised experiment on human beings. While the court ruling in South Africa was a civil one, there can be little doubt that Rasnick is guilty of a grievous crime for which he should be prosecuted.


1. Duesberg, P.H., Nicholson, J.M., Rasnick, D., Fiala, C. & Bauer, H.H. HIV-AIDS hypothesis out of touch with South African AIDS - A new perspective. Med. Hypotheses  (2009). doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2009.06.024

2. Zondi J. Judgment in TAC and Others v. Matthias Rath and Others. 2008.
3. TAC. Analysis of deaths on Matthias Rath illegal clinical trial. 2005.
4. TAC. The Citizen's publicity for AIDS denialists is irresponsible. 2006.
5. Nuremberg Code. Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council Law No. 10, Vol. 2, pp. 181-182.. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1949.