How Solal Technologies uses legal threats to stifle legitimate criticism

A hard-hitting article by Marcus Low, and posted to Quackdown!*,  starts: 

"Solal Technologies sells supplements that it claims are remedies or prophylactics for a whole range of diseases, including HIV, cancer, hypertension and depression. Naturally, Solal has faced criticism for these claims." 

"Solal's response has been to instruct their attorneys to send lawyers' letters threatening to sue their critics."

Quackdown! is a joint project of the Treatment Action Campaign, Community Media Trust and several individuals.

The article continues at Quackdown!

1 comment to How Solal Technologies uses legal threats to stifle legitimate criticism

  • Brent Murphy


    RESPONSE DATED: 30 MARCH 2011 5.07pm PM

    At no point has SOLAL Technologies ever claimed to offer a prophylactic (preventative) or treatment for HIV or AIDS. Such a claim does not appear on any of our labels. We merely offer a protocol of supplements that are useful for HIV/AIDS SUPPORT. Low’s statement to this effect is simply false. These products do not claim to prevent or treat HIV/AIDS, nor do they claim to reduce the risk of transmission. They are merely supportive. For example, probiotics and glutamine help to reduce the intestinal ulceration and poor nutrient absorption that is common in AIDS patients. We do NOT, nor have we EVER, claimed that supplements can cure of prevent HIV or AIDS, or that they will reduce the transmission of HIV. Furthermore we do NOT advocate that a person discontinue antiretroviral medication in favour of supplements. Nor do we suggest that supplements should EVER be used in place of antiretrovirals. In fact we caution against the use of certain supplements when taking antiretrovirals due to the possibility that certain supplements can activate liver enzymes that could reduce the levels of antiretroviral medicines to ineffective levels.

    With regards to cancer – once again, we DO NOT offer cures for cancer. We offer natural medicines that REDUCE RISK of developing cancer. These include green tea, broccoli extracts, curcumin, vitamin D3 and other cancer risk-reducers for which there is ample scientific evidence.

    With regards to products for hypertension and depression – we do offer natural medicines that help these conditions, BUT never as a substitute for conventional medicines. Furthermore, if a patient is already on a prescription medicine for hypertension or depression, we always advise that they do not discontinue these medicines unless their doctor believes that they should.

    Marcus Low has not been honest about the real reason that we are taking legal action against Harris Steinman, Roy Jobson et al. The reason they give is that we want to stifle healthy criticism. This is untrue. The real reason is because they have made defamatory and untrue statements about our pharmacist Brent Murphy, and against our medical director Dr Craige Golding, as well as accusing us of trading illegally. We believe that this vigilantism is motivated by a fanatical anti natural medicine bias and lack of understanding or wanting to understand the different paradigms of medicine practised both locally and internationally. Further, none of these critics are trained in any paradigm of natural medicine or alternate medicine and speak from a position of weakness and bias.

    Solal does not take legal action against our critics, we take legal action against those who act unlawfully by making untrue and defamatory statements. Therefore it is Solal’s intention to STOP people from making untrue and defamatory claims under the guise of debate and criticism. It is our right to legal protection from unlawful behaviour. South Africa is governed by the rule of law and not by the rule of bloggers on Quackdown.

    Below are examples of distortive, misleading and dishonest statements made by Low:

    1) The Sugar Association lodged a complaint with the ASA against our claim that excess sugar consumption can cause cancer and a number of other serious medical conditions. In our first response to the ASA, they found our expert was not sufficiently independent and made a ruling as such. This ruling was published prominently by ADSA in their newsletter. When this ASA ruling was subsequently overturned by the ASA, ADSA did not publish this fact. When we brought this fact to ADSA’s attention, they published NOT very prominently various ambiguous comments regarding the ruling which most ADSA members would not understand as completely reversing the initial ruling. The claim that sugar excess can cause cancer was substantiated and ADSA members are still unaware of this due to their association misleading their members as to the true nature of the ASA ruling. The attempt of the Sugar Association to hide the dangers of sugar excess is scandalous especially in South Africa, where according to the World Health Organisation, we consume excessive sugar which contributes to a host of chronic diseases that cause premature death. This matter is NOT awaiting arbitration as Marcus Low has dishonestly stated but is final and NO arbitration in this matter is contemplated by the ASA.

    2) The complaint that Harris Steinman lodged about our Health Shake referred to an advert that was erroneously swapped by the newspaper itself, who used the incorrect material and therefore not withdrawn as Low misleadingly suggests.

    3) Regarding the Charleston and Laithwaite ASA complaints, and in fact all other complaints against SOLAL: The ASA have undertaken to suspended all proceedings against Solal as they are concerned that they do not have the legal power to rule on such matters. In fact it may be that the few ASA rulings against Solal are fatally flawed.

    4) With regards to Vitamin D, Solal Technologies has never advocated the use of Vitamin D instead of the flu vaccine. In fact, in our advertising and marketing material we have expressed the importance of using both. With regards to Low’s criticism of our statement that Vitamin D is as effective as a flu vaccine, our stance is based on much more than merely the Japanese study that he refers to. For example of such studies see:
    Furthermore, there is recent and compelling evidence published by the Cochrane Scientific Review, the most trusted source of medical information in the world, that the flu vaccine is ineffective for young children and the elderly, and is only marginally effective (1-2%) for other age groups. This evidence can be reviewed here:

    5) Solal’s medical advisor, Dr Golding has no affiliation with Dr Burman or with the Healthspan website, and we had requested that his name be removed from this website when we became aware of this many months ago.

    6) With regards to the stylometry tests, which are tests used to determine who the true author of a particular document is: These were included in our response to the ASA as evidence suggesting that Harris Steinman has surreptitiously assisted others in lodging complaints or has lodged complaints in other people’s names which is not permitted in terms of the ASA Code.

    The MCC (Medicine Control Council) sets the standards in South Africa for medicines, not Roy Jobson and Harris Steinman. These two individuals set their own standards by making up their own rules of what is required to substantiate a claim. The self serving “self imposed” standards of evidence called for by Steinman and Jobson are inappropriate as there is ample evidence in published peer reviewed medical journals to support the claims that Solal Technologies makes.

    To conclude, Solal Technologies would like to put on record that we do believe that HIV causes AIDS, that we do believe that ARV’s are essential for people living with HIV/AIDS. We do not believe that nutritional supplementation can treat, prevent, cure or stop the transmission of HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, we do not believe that Vitamin D should be used as a substitute for the flu vaccine. Vitamin D should however be used by everyone who is given the flu vaccine.

    Brent Murphy – B.Pharm (Rhodes), MPS
    Colin Levin – B.Com, B.Com(Hons)(WITS), CEA, LCIBM Directors SOLAL Technologies Pty Ltd

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