On Stanislaw Burzynski, "antineoplastons," and cancer cure scams

At Disinfo.com, guest contributor and cancer-scam-debunker Bob Blaskiewicz has written a piece about Houston-based Stanislaw Burzynski (photo at left). Burzynski's advocates would like you to believe is a persecuted savior of cancer patients who holds the key to a cure that Big Pharma and the FDA want to suppress.

"An important sign of quackery is the depiction of the doctor as a lone genius fighting against special interests trying to suppress crusading work," writes Blaskiewicz— but Burzynski's associates appear to be engaging in suppression, themselves. Blaskiewicz writes about the "thuggery of some of his supporters (which included the creation of a website at the same IP as burzynskipatientgroup.org that defamed numerous skeptics, myself included, as pederasts)" to distract from Burzynski's decades-long failure to produce "a single convincing study" about his treatment's efficacy.

Here at Boing Boing, Cory has written about their history of legal threats to online critics, and scientists' debunking of their trials.

While Burzynski fails to liberate his patients from cancer, he has a remarkable talent for liberating them from their money.

From the position of an informed patient advocate, everything about the Burzynski Clinic reeks of medical charlatanry. He is not a trained oncologist, but he is treating cancer. He posits a novel mechanism for cancer (a patient's lack of antineoplastons) that is unrecognized in the medical literature as a cause. His ANP is marketed as an alternative to chemotherapy, but he gives patients chemo cocktails mixed with "terrifying" doses of sodium phenylbutyrate, mixtures that have not been adequately tested for safety and which causes hypernatremia in his patients. He has sold ANP not only as a cancer treatment, but also as an HIV treatment, an unjustified action for which he was severely disciplined by the Texas Medical Board. Checks for donations that are meant to go "toward the continuation of the Clinical Trials and Research" are to be made out directly to "S.R. Burzynski, M.D., Ph.D." He has initiated over 60 phase II studies over the decades and seems to have completed exactly zero of them. Three independent investigations, published together in The Cancer Letter, concluded that his studies were "uninterpretable," and that Burzynski defined successful treatment as "stable disease," a lowered standard that no other oncologist or researcher accepts.

Burzynski's medical license is under review for an array of ethical violation charges, including "failure to meet the standard of care, negligence, lack of informed consent, unprofessional conduct, and nontheraputic prescribing."

The fact that Tony Robbins, Dr. Oz, and "alternative physician" Joseph Mercola endorse his work should tell you plenty.

This piece, it should be noted, was written in response to a prior, credulous Disinfo.com guest post, "Burzynski: Fighting the Big Pharma Cartel to Cure Cancer," a fawning piece on the advertorial film about Burzynski.

And, full disclosure: I read that one, and complained to Disinfo via Twitter that this piece perpetuated (no pun intended) disinformation and lethal bullshit woo about cancer, and suggested to Disinfo that Blaskiewicz be invited to write a counter-opinion piece. Kudos to Disinfo for presenting a science-based view.

I am not an impartial observer. I am a cancer patient, no fan of "Big Pharma" or the FDA, and no fan of the brutal side effects of the evidence-based treatment protocols that remain the best we have to fight this disease. But the one thing I hate more than cancer are opportunistic bastards who exploit our fear of death, and that of our loved ones, to line their pockets while they watch us die.

Read: "Stanislaw Burzynski and the Antineoplaston Scam," by Bob Blaskiewicz, at Disinformation.