And credulous newspapers are helping that quack. The latest case is a little girl in Ireland with a disfiguring and deadly rhabdomyosarcoma who is trying to raise money to get the useless and totally fraudulent Burzynski antineoplaston treatment … and this article makes the good point that newspapers are helping to defraud sick people. Both the Irish Times and the Irish Independent reported on the poor girl’s struggle, and they called the fake treatment “pioneering” or “advanced”.
Each uncritical article published about clinics like the Burzynski clinic amounts to free advertising for a treatment which is at best, as yet unproven, and at worst, much more damaging than it is claimed. Though articles about individual patients and families must tread a careful line between criticism of the clinic and the feelings of those involved, the current standard of reporting on these clinics ultimately helps no one. It’s time to stop hiding the controversy, and sweeping it under the carpet. Patients deserve information, not infomercials.
It’s a shame. If you google Burzynski, the first page is full of bullshit promoting the fake treatment — one thing his clinic is good at is SEO — but still, there’s quackwatch and Orac and Larry Moran buried in the muddle, pointing out that this is flaming quackery. You’d think a reasonably intelligent journalist would notice that there’s some controversy here. And even better, you’d expect a reasonably intelligent journalist to pick up a phone, call an oncologist, and ask what they thought of antineoplaston therapy.
But they don’t.
And Burzynski gets free advertising for his $200,000 urine treatments.