Texas Medical Board discontinues prosecution of noted cancer quack

As regular readers of this blog know, cancer quackery is a topic relevant to my interests as a cancer patient.

Robert Blaskiewicz has written extensively about the epic quackery of one of the most well-known "cancer cure" promosters, Stanislaw Burzynski (left).

The Texas-based "alternative cure practitioner" fails to liberate patients from cancer, but has a remarkable talent for liberating them from their money.

Today, Blaskiewicz shares an update on the Texas Medical Board's long-running prosecution of Burzynski.

The short version: He's free to continue exploiting cancer patients there.

Come to think of it, a ham sandwich could probably get a medical license in Texas, these days.

Robert Blaskiewicz tells Boing Boing:

It’s with a heavy heart that I must report that Stanislaw Burzynski, the Houston cancer quack who charges exorbitant amounts to the most desperate terminal cancer patients to enroll in bogus clinical trials, retains his medical license in Texas (PDF) and is free to continue to do what he has been doing for 35 years. On Tuesday, the Texas Medical Board decided to discontinue its prosecution of Burzynski. This comes on the heels of the judges’ decision that Burzynski was not liable for the actions of the physicians in his employ. According to the Motion to Dismiss: “[the judges] reaffirmed in Order No. 16 that [the law in question] did not address civil liability for physicians other than surgeons working in operating room settings or stand for the proposition that the actions of a licensed physician may create administrative liability for the license of another physician. The Honorable [judges] concluded they would not consider evidence of administrative vicarious liability.”

This ruling effectively torpedoed the case. The Medical Board seems to have never even have gotten the opportunity to address the facts regarding these patients’ treatment. There is a chance that the otherwise unemployable doctors who work for Burzynski will lose their licenses (the patients in question certainly did not go into the Burzynski Clinic and treat themselves). Nonetheless, I’m sure that it will come to a shock to the people who empty their bank accounts at Burzynski’s feet that Burzynski does not officially treat them and assumes absolutely no responsibility for their outcomes.

Burzynski supporters (it’s amazing, but yes, even this guy has supporters) have trumpeted this as some sort of vindication of the treatment, which of course it’s not. He still, after 35 years, does not have a single clinical trial to back up the claim that his treatments work, a fact reinforced recently by an order from the FDA to Burzynski (PDF) to stop promoting his treatment, antineoplastons (ANP), as if it were safe and effective.

Nonetheless, according to reports by patients on social media, the shonky treatment and unfathomable medical advice proceed as usual at the Burzynski Clinic. A heartbreaking post from the family of one young cancer patient went up on facebook this week:

According to David Gorski, a clinical oncologist, researcher, and patient advocate who has written extensively about Burzynski and his bad science, when a cancer responds to treatment, it will usually shrink from the outside or open up on the inside like disgusting Swiss cheese. Necrotic material in the center more likely means that the tumor has outgrown its blood supply and probably reveals nothing about whether or not the tumor is responding to treatment. This would have been understood by real doctors.

Currently, the only way that Burzynski can legally give ANP to patients is if they are part of a clinical trial and are given a special medical exemption by the FDA to participate. Why the FDA continues to pour patients into the Clinic, which has not completed and published a single study out of dozens and dozens of trials over the decades is beyond me, and the FDA has been uniformly unresponsive to FOIA requests about the ANP trials and the patient approval process. Patients deserve better than Burzynski, and they deserve better protection than what either the Texas Medical Board or the FDA is currently providing.

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If you want to help protect patients, the best thing that you can do right now is WRITE about Burzynski. You can also make a point of linking to sites that have reliable information about what really goes on at Burzynski’s clinic. Don’t link directly to the man, his site, or his patients’ sites. We need to clog the channels that people usually use to reach this charlatan with reliable information.

Thanks for the update, Bob.

We've written about Burzynski and cancer quackery here on Boing Boing before; related archives below.

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