Late rugby great Sir Colin Meads stopped drinking a controversial chlorine water six months before he died after realising it wasn't helping, his widow says.
Dr Mitchell Dean Feller was struck off yesterday for conducting unapproved clinical trials for Te Kiri Gold on about 500 patients.
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Sir Colin famously used the drink, which was touted as a game changer for cancer patients and was claimed to be able to kill cancerous cells.
But he eventually realised the drink was not doing anything for him, Lady Verna said.
"He thought he'd given it a good try, which he did. He always had a bit more than the required dosage but he said, 'It's not doing me any good', so he stopped," she told the Herald.
"Dr Feller had sent Colin a couple of emails and data to Colin who was one of the first people with pancreatic cancer to try it. He didn't pay for it.
"I feel sorry for the people who paid for the water and it didn't work for them."
Lady Verna said the drink's creator, Vern Coxhead, might have been "a bit naive".
"I think he'd fallen hook, line and sinker for this doctor. But to Colin and I he sounded genuine about what he was doing."
August 20 will mark the second anniversary of Sir Colin's death after he succumbed to his pancreatic cancer.
"I miss his presence just being here - he was a bit of a larger-than-life person - there was always something happening around him, lots of phone calls, emails and letters from his friends," Lady Verna said.
"There are often kids swinging on his statue – he would have loved to have seen that. But he's a bit lonely when it rains."
Feller is understood to be living back in his home country of the United States now. It is not known whether he is practising medicine there, though his registration has only been cancelled in New Zealand.
The penalty was handed down yesterday in a Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal hearing in Wellington, which Feller did not attend.
Feller, a 50 per cent owner and co-director of PureCure, the company that makes Te Kiri Gold, was deregistered, censured, fined $5000 and ordered to pay $56,100 of the costs for the hearing.
PureCure made more than $300,000 from cancer sufferers, telling them the chlorine water, famously used by the late Meads and TV builder John "Cocksy" Cocks, would kill cancer cells.
But at the tribunal hearing an expert said the active ingredients of Te Kiri Gold water would react with the cells in the mouth and throat immediately, making it impossible for the chemicals to even reach a tumour.
The water contains high amounts of salt and chlorine and does not meet the Government's safe drinking water guidelines.
Patients, some terminally ill, were charged $1600 for an eight-week trial of the water, which creator Vern Coxhead earlier said changed the molecular structure of the immune system so the water could penetrate to the bone, then to the cancer cells.
Sales information provided to the Professional Conduct Committee showed PureCure received about $327,000 from December 2016 to November 2017 by selling Te Kiri Gold.
Coxhead, a 50 per cent shareholder in PureCure, did not wish to comment yesterday when contacted by the Herald.
Meads and Cocks both used the drink as a treatment and originally claimed it had a positive effect on their health. Meads, however, backtracked after initially speaking of its healing properties.
Both men have since died from their illnesses.
During the tribunal hearing, Professor Mark Hampton said the active ingredient in Te Kiri Gold water was the same as that found in household bleaches, such as Janola.
Hampton, director of the Centre for Free Radical Research, said Feller's endorsement and comments around Te Kiri Gold showed "a disturbing lack of understanding of the product".
Hampton explained hypochlorous acid, the active ingredient in the water, would immediately react with the saliva in the mouth and would never reach any cancer cells.
He also pointed to recommendations patients mix the water with milk, saying this would dilute the mixture anyway. "What is left for consumption is an expensive formulation of milk and saltwater."