Croatian scientists to clash in court

High-profile Croatian scientists have clashed over the efficacy of an anti-oxidant pill dubbed “the elixir of youth” by some in the media.

The pill, made by company Regiopharma, was launched in Zagreb in October and was soundly endorsed by life-scientist Miroslav Radman, co-founder and head of the MediLS life science institute in Split. Professor Radman is a respected scientist and well known for his work on DNA repair and bacterial cell death.

Ivan Đikić another prominent and respected Croatian scientist, and a scientific director of the Frankfurt Institute for Molecular Life Sciences in Germany has critised the product saying there are no peer-reviewed data published nor clinical trials to support Regiopharma’s claims. He has also criticised Radman for endorsing it.

Sadly, instead of the facts being allowed to be debated through normal peer-review processes of science the company Regiopharma has taken the debate to the courts. In a way all too familiar to those following the Libel Reform Campaign  in the UK, scientific debate may again be stifled by the threat of damages.

Đikić sees this lawsuit threat as a way to silence critics and, for now, is refusing to be silenced.

”I don’t think I said anything that was incorrect and I can’t see that they can sue me for what I said, but if that does happen, I will continue to defend scientific facts publicly,” he said.

Radman disagrees. ”Calling the case into the court is just the opposite of ’silencing the scientific criticism,’ ” Radman says. ”It’s about giving the fair chance to the truth to be established, scientifically, by valid arguments instead of contentious statements in the public media.”

But is this really true? Most of the scientific community would, I think agree, that scientific debate is not for the law courts, particularly when critical scientists can face huge claims for damages.

Read more in Science Insider magazine.

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