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Bad Manners and Good Gossip

« A View from the (Very) Mysterious Eastern Front: Sympathetic Magic and AIDS Science | Main | Rodney Richards: Evolution of a Diagnosis - How Testing HIV Antibody Positive Became Equivalent to Having HIV, Part II »

February 05, 2007


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David Crowe

Regarding the Mr. Barr of Shillfactor:

At the website, which is associated with, Barr admits that he has set up not only, but also, which promotes the toxic drug hydroxyurea:

"Even if you don't get the subtleties of the science, it's easy to grasp HU[hydroxyurea]'s biggest advantage. It works on the cell's machinery, not on the virus-avoiding the problem of drug resistance.

That gives HU exciting potential uses: It could serve as another line of defense for HIVers who've run out of HAART treatment options, sidestep lipodystrophy (by reducing the antivirals HIVers need to take) and steady the immune system during structured treatment interruptions (STIs)."

Perhaps he is angry at Havlir, Richman etc. for documenting adverse events from hydroxyurea.

Maybe Mr. Barr has invested in HU and is upset that his former friends aren't helping to make him rich.

But I guess it's kind of like the police standing by while two gangs kill each other. We can appreciate the irony and applaud the result, although we abhore the bloodshed.


I have been asked more than a few times during the course of today to identify the parts of the alien creature that is shown in the miniature.

The "Gang of Four" is a digital hybridization of Shillfactor, AIDS machas: Gulick, Ho, Havlir & Webb.

I know, it sounds like a law firm.

Mike Barr

I just stumbled onto these posts this morning. And please forgive me for not responding to your (Harvey) inquiry in a timely fashion. Project THAMES is very much a part-time operation -- at least for now. As are the websites: shillfactor, hivandhydroxyurea, smartattack, aftertapanddrain.

I, perhaps grandiosely, like to think of myself as something of a whistle blower, having worked or studied closely beside many of the Med Ed and research/regulatory folks I profile. And I no longer work for AHF so, no, I´m not bucking for a raise.

Similarly, hydroxyurea is a 40+ year old drug that, unfortunately, is terribly misunderstood in the realm of HIV/AIDS. Precisely because there is no money to be made on the medication (and because its use --at very safe doses-- may also allow HIVers to take fewer antiretrovirals), useful clinical research that could help to define the optimal use of hydroxyurea is not pursued.

My main criticism of the AIDS research and medical education establishment is that it has grown into a ravenous beast that must be constantly fed. (Mostly activist) colleagues whom I respect counter (A) that there has always been an 'AIDS mafia,' even if the cast of characters has changed a bit since the days of the Gang of Five (Merrigan, Richman, Volberding, Hirsch, Corey) and (B) that alternative avenues of research (e.g., therapeutic vaccines, immune-based therapies) are not being vigorously pursued because there are at present no promising candidates. On these two points I both agree and disagree, but strongly believe that because of the huge commercial biases to preserving the status quo (i.e., early combination ARV treatment for life, complemented by additional medicines in order to treat the unwanted side effects of the AIDS meds), we will be stuck with what we have now unless we can remove the kickbacks and corruption.

If you (David) would like for me to share my (and others´ whom I greatly respect) understanding and criticisms of the ACTG 5025 study, which 'rolled over' ACTG patients from an AZT+3TC+Crixivan study to a regimen of ddI+d4T+Crixivan plus or minus hydroxyurea at 600 mg twice daily (the 'd' drugs in this regimen appear to have been selected primarily for marketing/commercial reasons, as they are both drugs of Bristol-Myers Squibb), I would be more than happy to do so.

Keep up the good work.

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