Cancer quackery news: Stanislaw Burzynski threatens one of his own patients over website

Anti-cancer-quackery blogger Robert Blaskiewicz has a blog post up that details how Houston-based "alternative cancer treatment" practitioner Stanislaw Burzynski (photo at left) whom many reasoned minds in the oncology field would describe as a quack, has crossed a new line in his ongoing awfulness.

The latest: Burzynski's rep threatened one of his own patients, Wayne Merritt who had advanced pancreatic cancer, after Wayne (right) and his wife Lisa published a website detailing how they'd been duped.

That site,, is still up, despite the nastygram threatening "to file a legal lawsuit" for its purportedly "defamatory" contents.

Threatening bloggers is nothing new for Burzynski, but threatening cancer patients is, as far as I can tell.

Blaskiewicz adds,

The Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients is looking to put an actual dent into Burzynski's wallet while shaming him publicly for what he's done by raising money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. We're trying to raise $30,000, the cost of starting his bogus trials according to a patient who was dead just days after starting his treatment. We're donating all of it in his name on his birthday, Jan 23rd. That same day, we're issuing a challenge to the Clinic to MATCH THE TOTAL that skeptics raise. That's the big thing. Regardless of whether or not he participates (and I suspect that it's hard to shame the shameless), we plan to say that it's probably the greatest contribution to cancer research ever made in his name. :) The fundraiser is here. For bloggers who want to help drive his google search results into the toilet (by putting reliable info in its place), a guide can be found at Feel free to use the birthday ducky graphic I have there. :)

Below, two excerpts from the nastygrams sent by Burzynski's rep to Wayne Merritt’s wife. They're pretty wacky. And it takes a special kind of asshole to bully a cancer patient and his wife in this manner.

And Dr. Harriet Hall, aka "The SkepDoc," sent around this email backgrounder to Skeptics and pro-science types. It's a good place to start, if you're not familiar yet with Burzynski.

I'll paste it here, below:

Stanislaw Burzynski is a doctor who has lured patients to his Houston clinic with two promises: to try to cure their incurable cancers with his antineoplaston treatments, and to enroll them in a clinical trial. Patients in clinical trials are usually reimbursed for all expenses and paid for participating. Instead, Burzynski makes them pay for everything, typically $30,000. And, he is only claiming to do clinical trials because the FDA has investigated him and has prohibited him from treating patients outside of trials. So he pretends to be doing clinical trials, but he never publishes any results. Instead of a research protocol with IRB oversight and informed consent, he offers "individualized" experimental treatments to patients without any randomization or controls. He produces his own drugs and charges more than they would cost elsewhere. He claims to have many miraculous successes, but a website is accumulating the case histories of his far more numerous failures.

Read some of the stories here and weep. Just one example: He told a patient his cancer had shrunk by 84% on the latest MRI, so the patient assumed he was improving and wrote a check for another course of treatment. Then the neurosurgeon who had originally operated on him got a hold of the MRI and saw that the tumor was actually unchanged; the Burzynski Clinic had misinterpreted the healing of the hole where part of the tumor had been removed. Over a hundred of these cases have been collected and are gradually going up on the website to counter the testimonials on the misleading Burzynski Patient Group website. [The most recent entry demonstrates that threats have been issued against cancer patients.]

A website entitled "The Houston Cancer Quack" has been established to carry out a fund raising drive. The plan is to raise $30,000, the typical cost of treatment for a Burzynski patient, and to notify Burzynski on his birthday as a sort of birthday present. The money will go to support legitimate cancer research at the St. Jude Children's Hospital, and Burzynski will be challenged to match the donation. He can afford it. He lives in a $6 million, 14,495 square foot mansion.

He continues to offer unethical treatments to these desperate patients, who are being financially ruined in the pursuit of false hope and have been robbed of the opportunity for conventional palliative care and precious time with their families.

For more information see the article Dr. Gorski wrote on the "Science-Based Medicine" website today.

Also see the numerous articles he has written on the Respectful Insolence website.

What Burzynski is doing is evil. The FDA tried to stop him and failed. The Texas Medical Board tried to stop him, but lost on a technicality. We are hoping this fund raising drive will bring his misdeeds to the attention of the public. We hope the media will pick it up and spread the word to a wide audience.

This is a win/win proposition: You can support cancer research for children and simultaneously embarrass a doctor who is getting rich preying on vulnerable cancer patients. I can't think of a worthier cause. Please, PLEASE go to this webpage.

Click on the donate button. It's secure and simple to make a donation with your credit card online.

Skeptics, Unite! Here's a chance for skeptics to really make a difference.


      1.  @CW – well, if you read the patient stories on that website – that seems exactly what Dr. B & his monstrous staff are doing. Charging tens of thousands of dollars for “treatments” – and sending them across state lines – making this a Federal situation – and showing ZERO results?

        1. Oh, it’s absolutely projection. If they admitted to any wrongdoing they’d simply reply with “but herbs are harmless, so what we’re doing is still net-positive!”

  1. Ah, yes. Marc Stephens, the threatener in that story, threatened me repeatedly (and mostly incoherently) when I wrote about his threats against others.

    1. Wait, is that the same nutcase who threatened a 15 year old kid in the UK for blogging about the Burzinsky fraud?

  2. As Xeni writes, “it takes a special kind of asshole to bully a cancer patient and his wife in this manner.”

    How convenient that he also looks the part, as well.

    1. How about these folks who are cheerfully claiming that the Newtown shootings were a setup, and are smearing the doctor who took some of the kids in? Assholes indeed, but not as special as I’d like.

      1. It’s all part of a nurturing environment where opinions all have the same weight and conflict sells, so utter and complete batshittery is “the other side of the argument”.

  3. the best part of this is that i went to the scam site and it gave a link to their caringbridge site where it appears he is doing better AND they have both changed their diet to mostly raw fruits and veggies.  win all around!

  4. “Engaging Streisand Accelerators and setting Self-Immolation Circuits to maximum, Captain.”

  5. For bloggers who want to help drive his google search results into the toilet (by putting reliable info in its place)

    It is worth noting, perhaps, that before Burzynski’s employee Marc Stephens took on the extra duties of lawsuit-threatening (only to be dumped in the interests of plausible deniability when the optics went bad), he was on the payroll as a search optimiser. His job was to game the Google algorithms and design Burzynski’s websites — those of the clinics, and those set up purportedly in the names of grateful patients — so that they would rise to the top of search lists.

    Heckuva job!

  6. Burzynsky is a parasite on Houston’s reputation as a great place to get cancer treatment. M.D. Anderson helped set the standard for modern cancer treatment, and many other hospitals and clinics either affiliated with the Texas Medical Center or located nearby are great places to get cancer care. But everything that thrives attracts parasites, and Burzynski is our worst.

    I love St. Jude’s, but I would prefer the money went to Anderson or Texas Children’s, hospitals that actually have to deal with Burzynski’s influence.

    1. I should point out that most patients are from out of town and have to continue their treatment out of state. Rarely do his patients end up at those awesome institutions.

      1. The facile answer is that this is what you get when religious conservatives get to call the shots.

        The more nuanced answer is that this is what you get when religious conservatives get to call the shots.

  7. My favorite part is about Google had to pay claims in Italy.

    Houston is not in Italy.

    Sounds like someone needs a new version of the Cleveland Browns’ letter regarding paper airplanes.

    1. Also relevant:

      Google paid for the libel claim. Not the responsible party who published the “libelous claim”

      Which means that (in Italy) libelous claims on the web are indemnified by way of the search engine’s liability. That’s a sweet deal.

      Although, it only works if the plaintiff thinks that the search engine is responsible and sues them… Of course, in the US, the truth is an almost perfect defense against libel. I’m glad that I’ll most likely win a libel suit as long as what I wrote is true or (discernably) opinion.

  8. We’re trying to turn something awful into something awesome. Please give generously, people. The more you give, the more we ask them to give back!

  9. Were Sean Penn and this “Doctor” separated at birth?

    Burzynski has a side-line in peddling anti-aging nostrums — the ‘Aminocare’ range of pills, creams, anti-oxidant dietary supplements and general hocus-pocus, sold by one “Michael Hamilton, Sales Consultant” through the Burzynski Clinic.

    So the darkness and glossiness of Burzynski’s hair (for a man in his 70s) is clearly a testimonial to his own cosmetic snake-oil, and not for instance hair-dye.

  10. Pancreatic cancer is usually one of the fast nasty kinds, often killing in 3-6 months.  Some people get “lucky” and get more treatable versions which give them a few extra years, like Steve Jobs, or intermediate-speed types (my father lasted almost 3 years, with a “we can’t cure this but we can get you some extra time” level of chemotherapy.)

    Fuck cancer, and fuck quacks who try to deceive cancer patients into paying huge amounts for bogus treatments.

  11. To play devil’s advocate, if the one who sent the threatening letter is Marc Stephens, Marc is currently a self-appointed defender of Burzynski, so Burzynski didn’t *necessarily* ask Marc to do this or approve of it.  Of course, if Burzynski merely issues a “he doesn’t speak for me or my clinic” statement without actually condemning the content of Marc’s letter…

    1.   Marc is currently a self-appointed defender of Burzynski

      At the time of the events described here, he was a Burzynski-appointed defender of Burzynski.

        1.  Xeni’s original post leaves something to be desired in the way of clarity, giving the impression that these are recent developments, rather than older outrages against decency that are only now coming to light.

          One of the outrages is that although Marc Stephens was supposedly only a peripheral member of the Burzynski team at the time of the stalker behaviour for which he was later sacked, he seems to have had complete access to the purportedly confidential medical records of the patients whom he was harassing.

    2. “so Burzynski didn’t *necessarily* ask Marc to do this or approve of it”

      Does the word “stooge” mean anything to you? Scientology-like actions are still skeevy.

  12. As noted last time, the “technicality” is that apparently what Burzynski does isn’t actually a crime. Your use of “technicality” in this context does not become you. Burzynski is a grotesque asshat but the answer would appear to be changing Texas law to proscribe it.

    1. The Texas Medical Board deals with malpractice, not crimes,  More to the point, the technicality was that the law is that he could not be disciplined for “treatment” carried out under his direction by staff. Because he personally did not treat patients, the Board couldn’t do anything.  This is a very strange hole in the law, and can fairly be described as a technicality.  A more detailed explanation of what happened is here:

      1. He’s treating patients. Go to, and you will see that doctors routinely defer to Burzynski. I’d be stunned if his name showed up on his medical decisions, though.

  13. I wonder at the pathology.  Does he really think it works, and is just in denial about its efficacy, or is he aware it doesn’t work, and just completely unethical?

      1. Ultimately, but any doubts they might have are mitigated by their career being built upon a shameful, loathsome lie.

    1. All quacks are a mix of every single one of those. It works because he says it works and people repeat what he says and if people die, it doesn’t matter because someone says it works because he said it works.

    1. Anyone can issue anything that they want. That doesn’t mean that it has the force of law. And even the justice system does illegal things rather regularly.

  14. I have frustrating news. Burzynski’s people countered with a media blitz at Joe Mercola’s website, reposting an old story about him as if it were breaking news. They flooded the Burzynski hastag (I’d say by a factor of 20:1) . Please retweet this story, as it is fundamentally unfair that good info can be muted by nonsense.

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