DA: MCC must stop fake doctors

2010-01-27 18:03

Cape Town - The Medicines Control Council (MCC) must "do its job and stop fake doctors", the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.

The MCC was mandated by law to protect South Africans from fake doctors who claimed they could cure Aids, cancer and other conditions with medicines that had not been proven in any way to work, DA spokesperson Mike Waters said in a statement.

"It has a directorate of law enforcement specifically so that it can carry out this mandate. Yet it is completely failing to do its job."

The DA intended to ask detailed parliamentary questions about what the MCC's law enforcement division had actually done to put a stop to the flood of fraudsters dispensing medicine and trying to trick South Africans out of their money.

Ad placed in newspaper

One Rudi Boshoff had attracted media attention recently for adverts he placed in Die Burger newspaper referring to himself as a doctor and claiming to be able to cure thousands of diseases by using a "miracle machine" and various medicines.

The newspaper had since revealed that Boshoff was not registered with the Health Professions Council of SA or the Allied Health Professions Council of SA.

"But Boshoff is only one of countless numbers of people who make these claims on street corners and in newspapers across the country every day.

"These bogus doctors can freely act in direct contravention of the law, even advertising their products in national newspapers," Waters said.

HIV/Aids was a specific focus of these fraudsters, because of the atmosphere of suspicion of conventional therapies created by former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, and because there were hundreds of thousands of people infected with HIV and desperate for answers.

Pressure from Manto

The Medicines and Related Substances Control Act was absolutely clear that the MCC was responsible for ensuring that "no person shall compound or dispense a medicine unless he or she is authorised thereto in terms of the Pharmacy Act, 1974, or is the holder of a licence as contemplated in subsection (1)(a)".

"While any act of fraud is despicable, it is particularly repulsive when it involves taking advantage of people who are ill, and potentially discouraging them from taking treatments that would actually help them," he said.

The MCC came under enormous pressure from Tshabalala-Msimang to not act against people claiming to be able to cure Aids with alternative remedies.

The days of Aids dissidence were now gone, but it seemed that the MCC had not caught up with the change in the political environment.

The DA would therefore take this matter further to ensure that the MCC protected the public from bogus doctors, Waters said.