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South African Black Businessmen men patent "Aids cure"

A secret consortium of Black businessmen in South Africa have bought 60% of the rights of Virodene - a controversial new drug developed in South Africa and said to be a potential cure for AIDS. Not much is known about the by the members of the consortium, but it is led by well known businessman and prominent member of the ANC, Joshua Nxomalo.

Virodene first came to public notice last year when the developers asked the south african cabinet to fund further research into the drug. Their request had the blessing of Deputy President Thabo Mbeki and Health Minister D. Nkosozana Zuma. But it soon became clear that the developers, connected to the university of Pretoria, had not followed proper scientific and ethical procedures and had conducted human trials in secret. They were censured by the university ethics committee and their research halted by the South African medicines control council.

Another criticism of the drug is that its main ingredient is dimethylformamide, a substance commonly used as an industrial solvent and which can cause fatal liver damage. Its backers however remain confident of its potential and the Health Minister went as far as to accuse, in parliament, those opposed to the drug of being racists who wanted Black people to die of AIDS.

The director of the medicines control council has been forced to resign over the issue, but the deputy president, a personal friend of consortium leader Nxomalo has continued his support of the drug by writing to local newspapers defending the drug and the developers.

In the last several months the developers have so far submitted six protocols to the South African Medicines Control Council to try and win approval to test the drug on humans. The draft of a seventh protocol - which has the approval of an international review board set up to help the developers prepare for clinical trials - has been submitted. If it is approved, the developers hope to begin clinical trials with healthy people by August.
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