Russian Sugar Pills
On August 11, 2020, the first COVID19 vaccine has been claimed by Russia to be ready and effective. The vaccine has been named Sputnik-V to refer to the first Soviet satellite Sputnik. Russian vaccine was developed under the leadership of Alexander Leonidovich Ginsburg at the research facility Gamalei. The clinical trial involved 38 volunteers; by day 42, all 38 test subjects had developed protective neutralizing antibodies to COVID19. according to the official vaccine instructions published by the Russian Ministry of Health. At least 140 side effects were reported and some of the complications lasted 6 weeks and longer. As indicated in the vaccine registration document, almost all 38 participants had recovered.
Russian drug development : facts and myths
A couple of years ago, Steven Salzberg, Forbes Health contributor, scrutinized Russian pseudoscience, and drug development. His strong-worded article was published in December 2018, he wrote about the Russian pharmaceutical company “Materia Medica Holding” and the “science” of Release-Activity Drugs. This story, though, started long before Forbes publication.
Steven Salzberg reported in Forbes that Russian company Materia Medica, backed by CEO Oleg Epstein, manufactures and distributes over-the-counter drugs in Russia, including RADs. Release-Activity Drugs (RADs) are used for various human and even veterinarian conditions. In 2018 claims supporting RADs were examined by Russian scientist Nikita Khromov-Borisov and openly criticized. He wrote a paper analyzing the concept and efficacy of RADs. The authors concluded that RADs are disguised as homeopathy. In Khromov-Borisov’s opinion, proofs of RADs “phenomenon” are scarce, and science is fraudulent. Materia Medica later initiated a lawsuit against Khromov-Borisov that was settled.
In 2019, the editors of peer-reviewed medical journal Antiviral Research retracted two articles co-authored by Epstein. Editors mentioned: “This report did not reveal that the products tested for antiviral activity were, in fact, “homeopathically activated form[s] of antibodies,” as described in US patent, submitted by Oleg Epstein.”
Before Forbes publication
In 2017, two years before Forbes published the story, the Russian Academy of Science called RADs a pseudoscience. A special commission of Russian Academy issued a memorandum that emphasized: “Homeopathy as a pseudoscience.” The same memorandum addressed Materia Medica RADs claims and homeopathy claims in general. For example, the ridiculous “water memory claim” is regarded as “impossible theoretically and not experimentally confirmed.”
The same year (2017), Oleg Epstein was included in the list of nominees for the “VRAL Anti Award” for his “contribution” to Russian pseudoscience. He was elected an “honorary academician” of VRAL at the begging of 2018. “Vral” is translated from Russian as “Lied.”
The memorandum of 2017 recommended to the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation:
- To review outdated decision to introduce homeopathy into the Russian healthcare system
- To withdraw homeopathic medicines from medical use in government medical establishments
- To exclude homeopathy from new standards of care, clinical recommendations, and treatment protocols.
In February 2018, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation given Oleg Epstein another Anti Award for the most harmful pseudoscientific project in the science.
Oleg Epstein’s research raises a lot of questions. Materia Medica still employs hundreds of employees and sells so-called drugs (RADs) to the general population.
Homeopathy, RADs, or sugar pills — one thing is clear — the evidence of efficacy is inadequate.
Homeopathy, as an industry, creates 3 billion dollars per year in the US. Global homeopathy products market was valued at approximately USD 5.39 billion in 2017 and is expected to generate revenue of around USD 15.98 billion by the end of 2024, growing about 16.80% between 2018 and 2024.
And here it comes the first “homeopathic” COVID19 vaccine, will it be as safe as RADs?
Time will tell only if the real post-marketing data will be made publicly available. In the meantime, consumers in the US, Canada, and Russia feel cheated.