Russian Company Making Millions Selling Bogus Medicine: Report

A Russian company has been marketing and selling its own brand of bogus medicine: “release-active drugs,” or RADs, using scientific articles of questionable credibility to back claims that these substances can be used to treat or cure a remarkably broad range of illnesses, says Steven Salzberg, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.

In a Forbes article, Salzberg says a single Russian company, Materia Medica Holding, is marketing medicine that can cure ”… influenza, hemorrhagic fever, meningococcal meningitis, herpes, HIV, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, sleep disorders, obesity, chronic inflammatory joint diseases, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, …, alcoholism, allergies, and many other health problems.”

The papers promoting the benefits of RADs are authored by a variety of Russian authors, but they are nearly all co-authored by or associated with one person, Oleg Epstein, who is also the company’s founder, Salzberg says.

“Epstein and his Russian compatriots have been very clever about disguising the fact that their ‘release-active drugs’ aren’t drugs at all. Their papers are full of scientific jargon, which has no doubt helped them get their work past reviewers who (as every scientist who has published papers knows) can sometimes be a bit lazy,” he says.

Thanks to a new report published in the journal BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine (provocatively titled “Drug discovery today: no molecules required”) we now know that RADs aren’t drugs at all, because they don’t actually contain anything, the expert notes.

The bogus homeopathy “medicine” is currently being sold in Russia only, although their manufacturers are trying to spread into U.S. and European markets. In a recent letter published in a the Journal of Medical Virology, Epstein and his co-authors write that: “Currently we are in the process of approving evaluation requirements for our products, taking into account their peculiarities and allowing their potential authorization in the USA and Europe,” Salzberg says.