Armenicum is a drug invented in Armenia in 1998 that its developers claim is an effective treatment for HIV infection and a number of associated diseases. No rigorously monitored clinical trials of Armenicum have been published, and most HIV experts outside of Armenia do not endorse its use.
In 1999, a BBC investigation involving interviews with scientists involved in administering the drug, patients and creator Alexander Ilyen raised serious doubts about the drug's efficacy, concluding that Armenicum might do more harm than good. Dr. Manfred Dietrich of the Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told the BBC "I would not recommend at all to take such a drug." while an American patient said "we’re in a worse state than we were before we went."
Worldwide, the most effective treatment for HIV are antiretroviral drugs, which in internationally accepted clinical trials have been the only proven way to keep patients alive, often for years. The drugs work by directly attacking and reducing the amount of HIV in the body, keeping the patient from developing Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a complete immune system failure that leads to death. The drugs, offered in cocktails of three or four at a time, are often changed as the virus becomes resistant.
Alternatively, the makers of Armenicum claim it boosts the immune system, allowing the body to fight the virus. Armenicum clinic doctors also contend the drug has been shown to reduce a patient's viral load—the amount of HIV in the body—and that HIV never becomes resistant to it. The problem is that company scientists have never tried to prove any of these claims. They admit to not even formally monitoring the 250 patients who have been treated with the drug during the period from 2004 to 2008.
The main ingredient of Armenicum is iodine, a general antiseptic. According to the manufacturers it also contains dextrin, polyvinyl alcohol, sodium, potassium and lithium cations and chloride anions. It is described as a "blue-violet liquid with specific odor, packed in orange glass bottles per 20ml and corked tightly by a rubber plug clutched by aluminum caps."
When Armenicum was first introduced in Armenia in 1998, founders called it a "revolutionary cure for AIDS," and it immediately captured Armenia's high-ranking government officials’ interest. Early on, initial payments for Armenicum treatments came from the Armenian Defense Ministry, hoping to promote the drug's research and development. Armenicum's possibilities caused a buzz of excitement in the tiny country. Businessmen, it was reported in some newspapers in 1999, were buying up property so that they could rent it to all the people who would fly to Armenia to take the cure. However, as of November 2008, only about 800 people have taken Armenicum, which is financed by the Armenian government at a cost of around $6,000 per patient per year.
On 8 September 2000, Nikolai Kolesnikov, who had received treatment for AIDS in "Armenicum" center in Armenia was reported dead in one of Kaliningrad hospitals. According to his doctors, Armenicum turned out to be a simple immunity modular, without any effect on the virus which continues to damage the cells in the human body.
In March 2005 Kolesnikov was reported to have frozen to death in his native Kaliningrad. There have been several other reports on his death over the years.
- "Scepticism over Aids 'cure'". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
- "Access Armenicum". BBC World Service. 20 July 2000. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
- Khojoyan, Sara; Kohlenberg, Leah (2008-11-24). "Ten Years On, Armenia's So-Called "Miracle Cure" for AIDS Still Unproven". EurasiaNet. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
- ARMENICUM is a highly promising drug for treatment of HIV infection and AIDS Archived December 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- Patient Treated With Armenicum Dies. Asbarez.com, September 8, 2000
- Nikolay Kolesnikov Dead Having Reportedly Frozen To Death. Public Radio of Armenia, March 19, 2005 Archived May 31, 2011, at the Wayback Machine