'Alternative cancer care' provider Stanislaw Burzynski accused of selling false hope in USA Today investigation

Stanislaw Burzynski, an internist, has treated patients with experimental, unapproved cancer drugs at a clinic in Houston. (Photo: Michael Stravato for USA TODAY).

An extensive investigative story in USA Today finds experts questioning why the FDA allows Stanislaw Burzynski, a doctor in Houston, Texas, to continue to sell his "alternative cancer treatment" to vulnerable patients and their families.

Burzynski calls his miracle drugs "antineoplastons," and first synthesized the sodium-rich compounds from blood and urine "collected from public parks, bars and penitentiaries." They haven't been approved by the FDA, but he has also "prescribed them as a treatment for AIDS, lupus and other conditions."

Yet the National Cancer Institute says there is no evidence that Burzynski has cured a single patient, or even helped one live longer. He has not backed up his claims by publishing results from a randomized, controlled trial — considered the gold standard of medical evidence — in a respected, peer-reviewed journal.

This is, as far as I can tell, the most extensive investigation ever of his operations by a major news organization.

One pediatrician quoted in the article uses a phrase many bloggers and reporters have used over the years, despite retaliatory legal threats from Burzynski's reps: The pediatrician calls Burzynski a "snake oil salesman."

Couldn't have put it better myself.

He exploits people like me, who have cancer and want to live, in the worst imaginable way.

When will the FDA shut him down?

Read the investigative story here.

Boing Boing's archives on Burzynski here.

Update: Quack medicine propagandist Eric Merola and Stanislaw Burzynski respond to the USA Today story, writes Orac at scienceblogs.com. And David Gorski has a related post: "The Burzynski Empire strikes back."