I don’t know…Americans have an amazing capacity for self-delusion »« [Lounge #393]

Let’s make Houston cancer quack Burzynski pay!

We’re coming up on Burzynski’s 70th birthday — it’s a bit ironic that the man responsible for so many shattered hopes has had such a long life himself — and there is a plan to remind him of the grief he has caused.

Burzynski, if you’ve forgotten, is the guy who claims to have a cancer treatment called antineoplastons, a small set of compounds isolated from urine that he injects at high dosages into cancer patients. These drugs have not had their efficacy demonstrated, but Burzynski keeps cycling through clinical trials, taking the preliminary steps to demonstrating scientific utility, but never quite advancing the results to the point where they can demonstrate significance. He’s cunning that way; by constantly playing the game and running the mill of phase II trials, he puts up a pretense of scientific seriousness, but he never goes further, where his snake oil would be shown to be ineffective. Burzynski’s claims are total nonsense.

What he does do is promise remarkable results, and bilk people out of buckets of money — tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars gouged out of desperate patients — and then go home to his 6 million dollar, gated, wooded estate. Crime does pay, and it pays well. This fraud is living in luxury while his patients pour money into his clinic in the frantic hope that maybe the sciencey-sounding jargon of his well-practiced spiel means they’ll really get a cure.

They don’t. You can read the accounts of the other Burzynski patients — the ones he’d rather you didn’t know about. The Burzynski clinic is a place you go to die, and pay extravagantly for the privilege.

Right now, he and his propagandists are claiming to be doing “Personalized Gene-Targeted Cancer Therapy”, and touting the relevance of information from the human genome project for their treatment. But they’re still just injecting people with concentrated extracts of human urine! The lies are simply outrageous, but nothing seems to hinder him from making them.

Burzynski has plenty of lawyers and has fended off many attempts to shut down his quackery, so what can you do? We can raise money for a legitimate cancer center, St Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and challenge him on his birthday to match our contributions. The goal is to raise at least $30,000, an amount that is minuscule compared to the millions he has bilked from the sick and dying, but the point is to shame the man, and maybe get some money redirected to legitimate hospitals, where it can do some real good.

Read the latest on Burzynski from Science-Based Medicine, and get angry/inspired. Every penny raised does double-duty, making both a contribution to real medical work, and helping to raise attention about this shameless quack.

Donate!

Comments

  1. Moggie says

    but the point is to shame the man … helping to raise attention about this shameless quack.

    There’s an obvious problem with this plan.

  2. cattleya1 says

    How does he keep a license to practice medicine? The chemical analysis of urine is over 100 years old. Surely other people would have noticed the phlogiston.. excuse me, antineoplastons in urine. We can, after all, detect DDT and Dioxins in parts per billion. As someone who used to do clinical research, this sounds like a put-up or shut-up situation. I think the Texas board of medicine needs to do their job.

  3. kevinalexander says

    First he tests for neoplastons then, when he doesn’t find any he concludes that there must be antineoplastons to explain the absence.
    Do I have to explain everything in extra special miracle science?

  4. says

    @cattleya1

    How does he keep a license to practice medicine? The chemical analysis of urine is over 100 years old. Surely other people would have noticed the phlogiston.. excuse me, antineoplastons in urine. We can, after all, detect DDT and Dioxins in parts per billion. As someone who used to do clinical research, this sounds like a put-up or shut-up situation. I think the Texas board of medicine needs to do their job.

    Read this:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/stanislaw-burzynski-antineoplastons-and-the-orphan-drug-sodium-phenyl-butyrate/

    The short version is that what he is actually giving to these poor people is not what he says it is; it’s an overdose of a legitimate drug used for certain other rare conditions. Physicians are not prosecuted for off-label prescriptions. That and the lawyers.

  5. didgen says

    I so seldom wish there were a hell where evil people got that which they have worked so hard to earn. Instead patients and their families suffer and that piece of excrement goes home in comfort every day.

  6. cattleya1 says

    Neither could this in any way be called ethical treatment. In real drug studies, the drug company pays the patient a small stipend for their risk and inconvenience and covers the cost of the trial medications. They are paid quite well for phase I trials because those are proof of non-toxicity trials. I would like to know what institutional review board passes off on his protocols? This guy is a sociopath with a medical license and little else.

  7. Rich Woods says

    Just to help fill the vomit bucket a little faster, I feel I should also point out that Burzynski produces antineoplastons easily and cheaply in a basic lab across the street, selling them to the clinic at a hugely increased cost.

    Naturally he is the primary owner of both the the lab and the clinic.

  8. robster says

    Does this bloke run a church? He should as he’s obviously experienced in defrauding people, the ability to lie while smiling is a positive in running a church.

  9. Francisco Bacopa says

    Houston is really the perfect place for a quack like Burzynski. He is basically a parasite on Houston’s reputation as a great place to get cancer treatment. He couldn’t thrive here without great public hospitals, most notably MD Anderson, and numerous legitimate private cancer clinics.

    All the more reason Houstonians should want him gone. Believe me, we’ve tried.

  10. yubal says

    St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital policy:

    (from their website)

    Patients at St. Jude are referred by a physician, and nearly all have a disease currently under study and are eligible for a research protocol. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.

    Looks like they know what to to with all the donated money they receive. They spend it on the treatment of sick kids.

    We donate to StJude for several years now. Money well invested as we see it.

  11. DLC says

    Burzinski gets away with it because people want his quackery to work to the point they will cheerfully pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for it, and because Bursinski is clever enough to know how to keep himself partially insulated from the dirty end of the con, where the marks actually get bilked. His lawyers and legal fees are just part of the cost of doing business.

  12. vaiyt says

    This is the kind of thing I point people to when they say quackery does no harm.

    A fraudster with blood on his hands lives the life of a millionaire, while people who save lives for real around the world are undervalued for the hard work they do.

  13. erichoug says

    This guys is just down I-10 from where I live. Like 3 exits down. Every time I go to Best Buy I see his crappy little plastic yard sign saying “Burzynski Clinic ->”. Right next to the one that says “Art School->” which is pretty much about the same thing (Note if you are not an engineer or scientist you may not get that joke but they are both pointless frauds designed to suck money out of people although one is more evil than the other).

    I feel sorry for the people that end up there. In the hands of a parasite preying on their desperation and sadness. I hope I never actually see anyone going into the clinic or I will likely cry for 3 days.

    Thank you for the link PZ. I will donate when I am home tonight.

  14. Vicki says

    I donated, since I figure the “failure mode” for this is that I’ve given some money to actually help children with cancer. (I doubt we’ll get anything out of Burzynski, but I’d be happy to be wrong on this.)

  15. Pteryxx says

    Latest via BB: Burzynski not only threatened silencing lawsuits against Rhys Morgan and other science and skeptic bloggers, but also threatened one of his own patients.

    On September 30th, 2011, at the same time other bloggers were being threatened, Stephens contacted the Merritts by email in the guise of someone who had once passed out in a law school parking lot. In all, he issued three written threats and promised that not only did he represented the Clinic (which at the time was true), but also that he planned to commence legal proceedings against the Merritts. This received scant attention when Lisa Marie Merritt posted about this in the comments of a blog (though a mention is buried in Josephine Jones’s compendious post). The threats Stephens made against cancer patients on behalf of the Burzynski Clinic [pdf] never received any attention before now.

    The Merritts’ story here: http://theotherburzynskipatientgroup.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/burzynski-patient-wayne-merritts-story/

    Overview and call for donations via BB: http://boingboing.net/2013/01/18/cancer-quackery-news-stanisla.html

    The St Jude’s fundraiser is still going until Burzynski’s birthday, Jan 23.