The Burzynski clinic is a highly profitable
miracle cancer cure fraud cutting-edge research institution in Texas, run by its founder, the Polish-born "Dr" Stanisław Burzyński — at least he says he's a doctor but his alma mater are rather equivocal on the matter and there is skepticism over his qualifications.
It's notable for the invention from whole cloth of "antineoplaston therapy" (ANPs), a name coined by Burzynski for a mix of various peptides extracted from urine. Yes, he is in a very literal sense taking the piss. PZ Myers has taken this up.
He currently operates under severe restrictions from the Texas Medical Board. The government now monitors the clinic's billing practices and reviews its patient records. Burzynski must attend a Physicians Ethics program and complete units in topics of medical research (like he doesn't know how to dodge the law). He must also submit forms that indicate informed consent from his patients (prior to the treatment) to the Board so the Board can verify that it adheres to regulations and the law. Burznski must disclose to his patients that he owns the pharmacy and also submit a form indicating ownership disclore regularly to the board. Finally, he must complete a Medical Jurisprudence Exam. Unfortunately, his punishment is just a slap on the wrist compared to the crap he's committed and the money he has gained from it. He also could have received a harsher penalty by being fined $360,000 and $20,000 in restitution to a patient while being put on probation for his medical license. Instead, he has a five-year probation with a public reprimand and fees and retribution of just $60,000.
The Burzynski treatments are not accepted by mainstream medical science, and not approved by the FDA. Instead he has been running a series of trials, sometimes legally and sometimes not, over a period of at least twenty years; in this time there has been no publication in the peer-reviewed literature. This, along with the immense sums charged to patients on the trials (varying from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars) has led to robust criticism of Burzynski, particularly after an uncritical piece in The Observer promoted a $200,000 fundraising drive for a British girl. There is general criticism that media are over-optimistic in reports about Burzynski and alternative medicine generally preventing patients from making objective informed choices.
Teh 3vil Big Pharmaz in the person of the FDA issued the Burzynski clinic with an enforcement notice in October 2012 requiring them to stop promoting ANPs as safe and effective, and to stop using patient testimonials, as ANPs are still "investigational" and may therefore not be promoted for the indications for which they are being investigated. The term investigated is used loosely here: Burzynski has over 60 clinical trials registered on clinicaltrials.gov, not one of which has been published. Some people might even be so uncharitable as to think that enrolling people on clinical trials, at a cost to the patient usually in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and not publishing the results, is unethical.
His response to such criticism was to have his PR
hack representative send a series of posturing legalese letters to bloggers including Andy Lewis (Quackometer), Rhys Morgan (teenage quackbuster of the Miracle Mineral Supplement scam) and others. This invoked a predictable Streisand effect.
There appears to be no reasonable scientific reason why the so-called therapy should work.
He also passes the number two test in that every reputable authority is very careful not to actually call him a quack, preferring the Francis Urquhart approach — "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment". For example, the National Cancer Institute says:
- Antineoplastons are drugs composed of chemical compounds that are naturally present in the urine and blood. They are an experimental cancer therapy that is purported to provide a natural biochemical substance that is excreted and therefore lacking in people with cancer.
- Antineoplastons were first proposed as a possible cancer treatment in 1976.
- Antineoplastons were originally isolated from human urine but are now synthesized from readily available chemicals in the developer's laboratory.
- Antineoplastons are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the prevention or treatment of any disease.
- No randomized controlled trials showing the effectiveness of antineoplastons have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
- Antineoplaston side effects can include serious neurologic toxicity.
- Nonrandomized clinical trials investigating the anticancer efficacy of antineoplastons are underway at the developer’s institute.
From the emphasised text (not in the original) the reader will understand: this is a purported treatment that has produced absolutely no credible results in 35 years of assiduous promotion by Burzynski, and nobody else is even interested in testing it any more.
The FDA has accused Burzynski of overdosing patients and falsifying records so results from his treatment appear better than they really are. Burzynski received a formal warning.
In lieu of peer-reviewed publications Burzynski has opted for the obviously superior medium of a "documentary" entitled Burzynski the Movie: Cancer is a Serious Business that sets out his stall as a wronged man done down by the evil FDA and the Big Pharma Conspiracy. This approach has inexplicably failed to convince the scientific and medical establishment; it also caused director Eric Merola to become quite defensive towards critics himself. "How defensive?", you may ask. How does using a (possibly bogus) DMCA takedown notice to silence online critics grab you?
Merola's apparently insatiable need to defend Burzynski extends to his whining about unrelated antineoplaston studies being rejected by medical journals such as Lancet Oncology, apparently because the rejection of one study (the Kurume University Hospital study led by Dr. Hidaeki Tsuda, in this case) would reflect poorly on Burzynski's reputation as well.
Fellow travelers on the
quack alternative medicine train
Besides Merola, Joseph Mercola is an admirer, almost to the point of proclaiming Burzynski a Misunderstood alt-medicine genius oppressed by the FDA and mainstream medical practitioners everywhere.
Mercola screened a second Burzynski agitprop film during the April 2013 Newport Beach film festival, and, oddly enough, a special celebrity guest was called upon to help promote it: none other than Fabio (yes, that Fabio) Lanzoni. Although this partnership may seem nothing short of surreal, the probable reason Lanzoni fell for Burzynski and Merola's pitch is that his sister is receiving treatment at the Burzynski clinic. (Said sister died on August 14, 2013.)
On the other hand, former patients like Wayne Merritt and quite a few others might have a bit of an issue with Mercola's enthusiastic characterization of Burzynski. Merritt, in particular, has come in for legal harassment by the Burzynski clinic as a result.
- Stanislaw Burzynski: Bad medicine, a bad movie, and bad P.R. Covers Eric Merola's Burzynski the Movie: Cancer is a Serious Business
- Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, antineoplastons, and the selling of an orphan drug as a cancer cure
- Stanislaw Burzynski fails to save another patient, Respectful Insolence, 11/2/12
- Stanislaw Burzynski: Slapped down by the FDA once again, Respectful Insolence, 11/7/12
- Stanislaw Burzynski and "clarity" from the FDA, Respectful Insolence, 11/8/12
- The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group Stories by his patients who didn't get better.
- Stanislaw Burzynski "wins" a Pigasus Award from the James Randi Educational Foundation
- Stanislaw Burzynski and "Antineoplastons"
- Green S. 'Antineoplastons': An Unproved Cancer Therapy. JAMA. 1992;267(21):2924-2928. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480210086037.
- Burzynski S. Antineoplastons: The Controversy Continues. JAMA. 1993;269(4):475. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500040041027.
- Houston RG. Antineoplastons: The Controversy Continues. JAMA. 1993;269(4):475-476. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500040041028.
- Wanebo HJ. Antineoplastons: The Controversy Continues. JAMA. 1993;269(4):476. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500040041029.
- Let’s make Houston cancer quack Burzynski pay!
- Don’t Make the Same Mistake We Did;Burzynski Patient Haley S’s Story;The Other Burzynski Patient Group
- HEARING CONDUCTED BY THE TEXAS STATE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS SOAH DOCKET NO. 503-14-1342.MD TEXAS MEDICAL LICENSE NO. D9377 (Texas Medical Board)
- Redwood Times News. (March 3rd, 2017). Texas medical board orders probation for cancer doctor. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
- Burzynski is still bilking dying children by PZ Myers
- Whenever Alternative Medicine Is Mentioned
- The Burzynski Clinic – Another Crank Tries to Intimidate a Blogger, Steve Novella
- The Burzynski Clinic Threatens My Family, Andy Lewis
- The Burzynski Clinic is using libel laws to silence critics of its cancer treatment, Rhys Morgan, The Grauniad, 30 November 2011
- Burzynski Clinic? Meet the Streisand Effect Science Based Pharmacy
- Burzynski at whale.to (tinfoil hat recommended)
- NCI on antineoplastons
- FDA issues warning to controversial Houston cancer doctor, questioning validity of some of his research data.
- See the External Links section above
- Eric Merola apparently doesn't like what Orac wrote about Stanislaw Burzynski, Respectful Insolence
- Is Eric Merola issuing bogus DMCA takedown notices against critics of Stanislaw Burzynski? Respectful Insolence
- A study of antineoplastons fails to be published. Stanislaw Burzynski’s propagandist Eric Merola whines about it. News at 11. Respectful Insolence
- Quoth Joe Mercola: I love me some Burzynski antineoplastons, Respectful Insolence.
- Five things I learned (second hand) from the recent screening of Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business, Part 2 Respectful Insolence
- Eric Merola and Stanislaw Burzynski’s secret weapon against The Skeptics™: Fabio Lanzoni (I kid you not), Respectful Insolence
- [http://theotherburzynskipatientgroup.wordpress.com/ The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group
- Cancer quackery news: Stanislaw Burzynski threatens one of his own patients over website, Boing Boing
- JREF's Pigasus Awards “Honors” Dubious Peddlers of “Woo”, JREF web site