Excerpt from a letter by Dr Joan McKenna, Director of Research, TBM Associates, Berkeley California, which was published in the Policy Review, Fall, 1990: (see pages 94, 95).

"Like Duesberg and Ellison, we see the use of AZT as a political and economic solution without real medical benefit to the patients. AZT is a known immune suppressant that essentially shuts down the immune system. By administering AZT to AIDS and ARC patients, few symptoms emerge that require medical care or hospitalization until the final stage of massive system failure form multiple infections. With AZT, the insurance companies avoid the $150,000-$250,000 expenses of earlier AIDS cases where 9 to 18 months of hospital and medical care were threatening to bankrupt the companies. Hospital and health care administrators, including Medicaid officials, who saw their ruin looming as Medicaid AIDS patients filled their wards, were relieved that their financial exposure could be limited to a few weeks or months by AZT administration to patients. Politicians who were reluctant to expend more money and public resources for the care of economically and politically disenfranchised minorities could assuage concerned families and friends and the media that everything was being done that could be done medically with AZT. They promised to make AZT easier to obtain and require that all physicians seeing AIDS patients urge them to go on the drug. AZT does not stop the progression of the disease. It does not stop patients from dying. But the dying is quiet, convenient, and cheap at $5,000 to $15,000 per patient."

A report in the New Scientist, 19 October 1991 read: "Britain and France are to continue for at least another nine months a trial of the anti-AIDS drug Zidovudine (AZT) in which some participants receive only a placebo. The trial is designed to show whether the drug prolongs the lives of people infected with HIV but not showing symptoms of AIDS. But the US stopped a similar trial two years ago because the drug had already been shown to delay the progression of AIDS."

In February 1992 the trial, conducted by the Wellcome Pharmaceutical Company and the National Center for HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, was terminated for the same reasons given for the termination of the American trial, ie that it showed early AZT to benefit HIV-positive people, and so it would have been immoral to further withhold the drug from the placebo subjects.

Again, this is an example of "science by press release" (The Australian, 4 February 1992) because "it would be some time before the trial was published and a full assessment made", while in the meanwhile, the author was informed by the Sydney AIDS Centre, the data was held by the Wellcome Company as classified information. What will the full assessment reveal, seeing that the entire trial was based on pure supposition from start to finish? When it is known that less than 3% of HIV-positive people proceed to AIDS anyway, it is ridiculous to base a "scientific" trial on the basis that 100% will do so.

Of course, if Wellcome succeed in convincing everyone that AZT can save people from something that wouldn't have happened anyway, look at the sales they will make. The chairman of the trials advisory committee said the Wellcome Company had a moral obligation to drop its price for the drug (currently $5000-$9000 per patient per annum) now that it is proposed to give it to all HIV-positive people (15,000 in Australia alone), but the company has stated there will be no price reduction.

AZT is still the recommended treatment for AIDS, however, and now two new drugs are on the scene--Didanosine by Bristol-Myers, and Nevirapine by Boehringer-Ingelheim, both of which are designed to destroy the "deadly" AIDS virus, HIV, against which in the eight years since it was accused, no evidence has been produced to show it does the slightest harm.