Posted 23 January 2012
I received the following letter:
Dear Dr Steinman,
I was hoping you could help me with a product. Perhaps you have knowledge of it?
Repcillin (genuine crocodile balm) it cures burns, cuts, psoriasis, eczema, athletes foot, acne, sores, nappy rash, insect bites, sunburn, sore lips, thrush warts etc>
I visited the website and saw that they have been approved by the MCC (I could not get hold of anyone to verify this) I then phoned NetCare who stock the product _ and they said they only have a certificate of submission and that the MCC is in a mess at the moment.
How can I be sure this product is for real? If pharmacies are stocking it and hospitals it should be fine to use?
I am sorry to trouble you with this _ I just knew that if anyone knew _ you would.
Having investigated this product, I can say with absolute conviction the following:
The site is impressive and gives the reader the impression that this product is bona fide, that there is evidence that it works, and that the claims are valid.
The truth is that scratching below the surface, there is not a shred of evidence to support the claims being made for the product. Extrapolation of science in support of the claims is illogical and incorrect. The claims that the product can benefit a host of skin conditions is untested and unproven and simply thumbsuck. There is not a single study in over 21 million published articles indexed at PubMed in support of the claims of this product, or the main ingredient, Crocodile oil.
Furthermore, there are a number of other glaring errors (or lies) being made on the Repcillin website.
This was my response:
Thanks for your email. I have had my eye on this product for a while, but because of so many other high profile scams, have not had much time to look over this product with the attention it deserves.
I have previously done a search on crocodile oil to see if there is any published health studies on the product. There are none. One would consider that if the crocodile oil has therapeutic potential, it would have been extensively used by the native tribes of Africa and Australia, and even America, but it is not to my best information: it is being used but minimally.
Furthermore, the site claims that Repcillin must work based on the inference of the BBC article that antibiotics have been discovered in crocodiles for their wounds heal so well. Bad reporting. Firstly, the “ingredient” in the blood is most likely an antibody, and these are likely to be toxic to humans. Secondly, antibodies are not found in crocodile oil/fat.
Crocodiles do not excrete or produce antibiotics. Here is the correct context of the article: “Scientists in Australia’s tropical north are collecting blood from crocodiles in the hope of developing a powerful antibiotic for humans, after tests showed that the reptile’s immune system kills the HIV virus” and “Britton said the crocodile immune system worked differently from the human system by directly attacking bacteria immediately an infection occurred in the body.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-35 9556/Crocodile-blood-hold-key-HIV-cure.html
In other words, a good theory, not proven – and as I point out, one cannot give crocodile antibodies to humans.
Here is a good article that addresses some of the nonsense around this product: http://www.io l.co.za/news/south-africa/croc-oil-salesman-s-claims-disputed-1.416387
Update: 25 October 2013
I am informed that the local inventor and manufacturer of Repcillin, claims his product’s name has been “stolen” by an American agent who now produces his version of the product – possibly a good replica or not. The point being that the claims of one cannot be extrapolated to the other for they may be, or are, different products but carrying the same name and package designs.[/note]
Subsequent to this posting, the ASA has ruled against this product.
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