Government/Research/Drugs
The Star,
, Controversial Aids-drug firm to be sold off

By Nalisha Kalideen

Enerkom, which manufactured a controversial anti-Aids drug that was tested on Tanzanian soldiers, is being auctioned.

The auction will take place on Wednesday.

The company, a subsidiary of the Central Energy Fund, was mired in controversy last year when it tried to distribute the coal-based drug Oxihumate-K to HIV and Aids patients without permission from the Department of Health.

'What will be on auction is all the research done'

Enerkom claimed that it had been given permission, but the department said it had withdrawn permission for distribution over concern about the drug's high chrome content.

Doctors had said it was unacceptable to distribute the capsules, filled with black powder that supposedly boosted immunity, because clinical trials had not been completed.

It was then tested on HIV-positive Tanzanian soldiers and civilians.

Enerkom will be auctioned in its entirety, including the laboratory and other facilities at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria.

The auction also includes the property rights to the drug Oxihumate-K and the results of its clinical trials.

"We will be selling the intellectual property rights of the company. There are 57 different individual rights that are downscaled into 11 projects. What will be on auction is all the research done," said Chico da Silva, of auction company Aucor.

The auction is set to raise about R30-million - meaning an expected R100-million loss to taxpayers.