A Villa Park doctor and his son pleaded not guilty Wednesday to advertising and selling a homemade medicine, Viroxan, as a cure for AIDS.
Authorities have alleged that four AIDS patients died after receiving the treatment.
The 16 felony counts allege that Dr. Stephen Herman, a radiologist, and his son, James, violated various health and safety codes as well as committing grand theft by taking money under false pretenses, Deputy Dist. Atty. Craig McKinnon said.
Their arraignment came on the heels of civil charges, filed Monday by the California Medical Board, that the radiologist was negligent, incompetent and dishonest in selling the unproven drug to AIDS patients. The board will hear those charges in July.
A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Aug. 22, to be followed by a preliminary hearing Oct. 8.
Dr. Herman declined to elaborate on his plea, saying, "The story will come out shortly and soon and correctly."
He declined to reveal the ingredients of the drug he developed in a laboratory he built in his pool house but denied reports that it was derived from plants. Herman said he tried to apply for approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration, but had neither the time nor the finances to continue.
Despite the charges, Herman said he continues to test Viroxan in clinical trials outside the United States "on a confidential basis."
At least one Orange County resident, Bob Metcalf, 42, said he obtains Viroxan from outside the country and continues to give himself once-a-week injections.
Metcalf, who first tested HIV positive in 1987, said he believes that the drug, which he has been taking for two years, stopped the deterioration of his blood and keeps him hea lthy.
"If it's so toxic, how come I'm not sick?" he said.
"I know the medicine works. I know if not for that medicine, I'd be very sick or dead now."