Respectful Insolence

It’s been a while since I mentioned Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, the Houston doctor who has somehow managed over the last thirty-plus years to treat cancer patients with something he calls “antineoplastons” without ever actually producing strong evidence that they actually cure patients, increase the chances of long-term survival, or even improve disease-free progression. Although there was a tiny bit of prior plausibility behind the concept–albeit only very tiny–back in the 1980s, the relentless drip, drip, drip of negative evidence, coupled with Burzynski’s failure to advance his therapy beyond phase I and II preliminary trials (he has a phase III trial that remains, after a considerable period of time, unopened) or to publish any compelling evidence that his antineoplaston chemotherapy works (and, make no mistake, it is chemotherapy, Burzynski’s efforts to represent it as “not chemotherapy” not withstanding), has completely eroded even the minimal plausibility his therapy had. More recently, Burzynski has tried his hand at what he calls “personalized, gene-targeted cancer therapy,” which basically boils down to his looking at genomic tests and biomarkers and then using the results to pick a cocktail of chemotherapy and targeted therapies to throw at the cancer without much thought, rhyme, or reason. In other words, what Burzynski does is at best a parody of real personalized, gene-targeted cancer therapy, which is currently in its infancy. What Burzynski does is basically making it up as he goes along. More recently, Burzynski has latched onto an orphan drug (sodium phenylbutyrate) because it is a prodrug for one of his antineoplastons.

While Burzynski’s abuse of science and medicine takes protean forms, one thing that’s remained consistent through it all is his charging tens (sometimes hundreds) of thousands of dollars to treat desperate cancer patients. Worse, because the FDA has banned him from treating patients with antineoplastons outside the context of a clinical trial, Burzynski has a whole bunch of scientifically dubious clinical trials for which he charges his patients to enroll, a practice that is usually at least frowned upon and, more appropriately, viewed very dimly because it is generally considered unethical. Worse still, because Burzynski charges so much, a fair number of his patients resort to fundraisers or, as I call it, harnessing the generosity of strangers to pay for woo and in general building up a cult of personality around himself in the “alternative” medicine world and threatening skeptical bloggers who had the temerity to write about him. activities. More recently, Burzynski has been sued for misrepresenting his clinical trial and requiring a patient to buy the expensive chemotherapy and targeted drugs he prescribed from a pharmacy that he owns–without informing the patient that he owned the pharmacy. The only thing that’s not surprising, then, is that Dr. Burzynski is being pursued by the Texas Medical Board. What is surprising is that the TMB failed to strip him of his license back in the 1990s, which was the last time it paid significant attention to him.

It’s sad, too. Over the last few months, there have been a procession of children, in particular from the U.K., whose parents have raised money to bring their children to Houston to be treated by Burzynski. All of them are desperate to save the lives of their children. All of them are being preyed upon by Dr. Burzynski.

Earlier this week, I learned via Skeptic that one of them died:

St. John, Kan. — Four-year-old Brynlin Sanders lost her battle with brain stem glioma, – an inoperable form of brain tumor – at her home Saturday.

The daughter of Michael and Heather Sanders, the young girl touched the hearts of many and figuratively became a daughter of the county with numerous fund raising events and gatherings for her benefit.

Over 600 people attended a New Year’s Eve fund-raiser that netted over $50,000 for Bryn’s medical fund. It was one of many events held for the darling blonde with the infectious smile.

Brynlin was diagnosed with the tumor in November of 2011. When it was determined that the tumor was inoperable, Bryn was enrolled in a special treatment program at Burzynski Clinic in Houston. She returned to St. John to continue home-based treatments in late December.

Brynlin’s funeral was yesterday.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose a child. I’ve lost relatives, even close relatives, but there’s something different about a child suffering from a terminal illness. I can to a great extent understand how the parents might be so desperate that they would be easy prey for someone like Burzynski. Doctors tell the parents that there is nothing further they can do. Then along comes Burzynski telling them the opposite. With utter confidence, he tells them that his antineoplastons might be able to cure their precious little girl when the doctors tell them that all they can offer is palliative care. The parents listen, but then find out from Burzynski’s finance people that is treatment is really, really expensive and Burzynski wants cash up front, tens of thousands of dollars. The Sanders’ neighbors find out about little Brynlin’s plight. Because they are kind-hearted people, they want to help. So they help the Sanders organize and hold a fundraiser on New Years Eve, and people came. In fact, enough people came that the Sanders were able to raise over $50,000 through attractions at the fundraiser such as a hog feed and a live and silent auction. How much of that money went straight into Burzysnki’s pockets I don’t know, but if the Sanders had medical insurance (and even if they did not, thanks to the SCHIP program, chances are good that Brynlin did), the expenses for standard-of-care cancer treatments should have been at least mostly taken care of. The only reason they would need to raise $50,000 would be to pay for non-standard cancer treatments that neither private health insurance nor SCHIP will pay for.

Treatments like Burzynski’s antineoplastons.

Burzynski couldn’t save Brynlin. He offered hope, demanded money, and the end result was the same. Little Brynlin died. Burzynski didn’t kill her, but he didn’t help her either. What he did do was to offer tantalizing hope, hope that Brynlin might survive her terminal disease. It was a false hope that drained the Sanders’ bank accounts and made a mockery of the generosity of so many good people who donated to the Sanders’ medical fund thinking that their money was going to help a little girl with a deadly brain tumor.

It’s very difficult to write a post like this because, no matter what I say, there will always be someone who will interpret it as attacking the Sanders, as kicking parents who’ve just lost a child while they’re down. That is not my intent. The Sanders did what they thought was right for their child. Unfortunately, they very much made the wrong choice. Their child died anyway because Burzynski can’t offer anything better than what science-based medicine can offer, his claims otherwise notwithstanding. What he can do is to make the remaining time of children like Brynlin worse than it needs to be. What he can do is to take parents who are already under unbelievable, sometimes unbearable, pressure and add the additional pressure to raise huge sums of money to pay his exorbitant charges for his ineffective treatments and incompetent “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy.” What Burzynski can and does do is to provide false hope that keeps parents chasing money to pay him and keeps them from concentrating on what is needed: Making their child’s last days on earth as happy and bearable as possible. When it’s over, the end result is the same. The child is dead, but the child’s family is worse off, their bank accounts drained and money begged from kind-hearted strangers flushed down the sewer that is the Burzynski Clinic.

Burzynski touts his seeming successes, the patients whom he treats who survive longer than would normally be expected. Brynlin, alas, followed a more typical course for a children like this, dying only three months after diagnosis. In fact, she did worse than average in Burzynski’s care. You’ll not infrequently hear from apologists of doctors like Burzynski a single question: What’s the harm? Children like Brynlin Sanders are the harm. It’s a harm you won’t hear about from Burzynski or his apologists.

Comments

  1. #1 fanta.panda
    February 16, 2012

    Straight up, this article is a load of crap…

    First of all, Burzynski’s trials have never gotten past Phase 1 or 2 because the FDA has been actively blocking his research or unilaterally altering his treatment protocols in the trials for the past 2 decades.

    Secondly, having looked at some of his research myself, antineoplaston treatment is NON-TOXIC. How can a (supposedly) caring health professional look at radiation and chemotherapy and its awful side-effects and go “yeah, this is a good treatment for cancer … if you can survive the treatment itself.”

    Thirdly, despite saying that Burzynski’s treatment didn’t kill her, the way you write the article suggests that Burzynski’s ineffective treatment is to blame for this poor child dying and that he is actively trying to “prey” on his patients using these useless “proteans”(?). Forshame on you! How can you say these things and not turn your judgemental gaze on chemotherapy and radiation therapy. How many people die directly as a result of those therapies?

    Quite frankly, you are as biased as any religious zealot out there, completely unable to accept that other less toxic and more effective treatments are out there for cancer. I doubt you would be writing this article had she gone for chemo or radiation … Sure, the antineoplaston treatment didn’t help her, but it also didn’t kill off her cells and put her through almost unbearable pain and sickness that “conventional” treatments give.

    Get your head out of your ass and do some proper research before you spout off about these “quacks” who don’t know anything about treating cancer. Your flippant prose tells me that you are one of these pseudo-intellectual bloggers who only find “research” that argues their point. And quite frankly, even that is lacking in this blog piece.

  2. #2 rhwombat
    February 16, 2012

    fanta.panda: Project much? Can I suggest that you look up Orac’s research (which is considerably more proper than your propaganda) before you make quite such a facile fool of yourself…not that you will. Moron.

  3. #3 nastylittlehorse
    February 16, 2012

    @fanta.panda

    Firstly, please provide proof of this obstructivist behaviour, all that’s observable from the outside is a doctor procrastinating in trial phase in order to extract money from unfortunate families.

    Secondly, if you read any or Orac’s previous articles on this you would know that much of what Burzynski prescribes IS chemotherapy.

    Thirdly, Orac explicitly says “Burzynski didn’t kill her”, so I’m not sure which article you were reading.

    Quite frankly, how you can reconcile the two things you say in this paragraph amazes me – Claiming antineoplastons are effective and then saying they did nothing, did you actually read back what you just wrote?

    Get your head out of your arse before you start writing, you can’t even keep a story straight for a few lines at a time, and you (just like Burzynski) have cited absolutely zero research to support your point.

  4. #4 Militant Agnostic
    February 16, 2012

    Interesting that first response is an illogical rant from a Burzynski apologist. Almost as if someone is googling references to Bullshitzki in order to make a pre-emptive strike.

  5. #5 sophia8
    February 16, 2012

    It’s astonishing (to me at least) that all that money hasn’t bought Burzynski a good PR person. Instead, he has a staff of trolls and apparent lunatics who who just make him look worse. Which isn’t all that hard to do of course.

  6. #6 Lawrence
    February 16, 2012

    I’m guessing the Burnynski troll missed the part where a key part of his treatment is low-grade chemo…..

  7. #7 MikeMa
    February 16, 2012

    fanta.panda has used several tired ruses in his biased rant. My fav is calling Orac as bad as a religious zealot. Cool. And exactly wrong.

    Religion is based on faith. Faith is a belief without proof. Burzynski is selling, at quite a tidy profit, unproven treatments coupled with some standard chemo. Desperate patients, or their parents in this case, given a vanishingly small ray of hope at a very high price. Faith-based treatments.

    Orac has systematically and scientifically taken Burzynski’s scam(s) apart numerous times in the last year. Use the search box and your brain.

  8. #8 herr doktor bimler
    February 16, 2012

    all that money hasn’t bought Burzynski a good PR person. Instead, he has a staff of trolls and apparent lunatics who just make him look worse.

    One can at least hope that fanta.panda had the sense to use an IP address that wasn’t immediately recognisable as Burzynski’s.

  9. #9 ConspicuousCarl
    February 16, 2012

    Hello, fanta.panda! Thanks for your awesome comments. I am slowly (but surely! LoLz!) learning from people like you how to properly use logical arguing techniques like straw men, red herrings, ad hominem , etc.

    The only part of your post I don’t get is this, which I hope you can explain to me:

    > “proteans”(?).

    I can only assume that you are using some argument method of which I am ignorant, since everything else you say is a rock-solid pile of logic. But I don’t understand what technique you are employing by pretending not to know what the word “protean” means. I guess you could be trying to frame it as if it were a typo in order to use an ad hominem logical argument, but then there is the risk that other people reading your post might actually know that protean is an adjective which means that something can take more than one form. Is there some other benefit to pretending to not know what that word means, or is it just a high-stakes method of logic which amateurs like me should avoid until I am as skilled as you are?

    Thanks!

  10. #10 herr doktor bimler
    February 16, 2012

    fanta.panda has used several tired ruses in his biased rant.

    Voting for “parody”. Bravo!

  11. #11 chezjuan
    February 16, 2012

    Fanta.panda- I don’t knw about you, but if I had cancer, I would want the treatment to be toxic and to kill cells… how else are you planning to kill the cancer?

    I would prefer the toxicity to be as targeted to the cancer as possible, but do realize that since cancer is basically regular human cells that have mutates, there will definitely be some collateral damage.

    Oncologists have to balance the good (kill cancer cells) with the bad (kill healthy cells). I do noy envy them, but I do hope they make their treatment decisions based on science.

  12. #12 FilipinoMDstudent
    February 16, 2012

    @fanta.panda (#1)

    1) FDA and government are in a conspiracy against real cures – check!
    2) Conventional treatment for cancer is worse than cancer – check!
    3) Alternative treatments are nontoxic, therefore, better than conventional treatment – check!

    I’m calling Poe’s law on this one.

  13. #13 LW
    February 16, 2012

    fanta.panda @1 :

    First of all, Burzynski’s trials have never gotten past Phase 1 or 2 because the FDA has been actively blocking his research or unilaterally altering his treatment protocols in the trials for the past 2 decades.

    Here’s Burzynski’s Phase III trial:

    This study is not yet open for participant recruitment

    Estimated Enrollment: 70

    Study Start Date: December 2011

    Estimated Study Completion Date: December 2015

    Estimated Primary Completion Date: December 2013 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)

    It is February 2012. Burzynski seems to have missed the start date. Not trying real hard on the Phase III trial, is he?  Almost like it’s more lucrative to charge people tens or hundreds of thousands to enroll in his Phase II “trials” that don’t produce any data.

  14. #14 Todd W.
    February 16, 2012

    @herr doktor bimler

    Seconded. Very good poe, fanta.panda! Gotta say, your style is very believable. You’ve really captured the inane, incompetent tactics used by many of Burzynski’s supporters. I think the only thing missing is a legal threat to shut Orac’s blog down. Pretty glaring omission, so I think I’ll have to dock you points. Overall, 8.4/10.

  15. #15 Marianne
    February 16, 2012

    Well done for writing this.

    It’s difficult and upsetting. You’ll always be attacked for pointing out what’s gone on in cases like this.

    I got fed up of people doing it in such an insensitive and callous manner in the direction of those who have already made their choice – but have not yet had to face the consequences.

    After the fact, it can seem like ‘I TOLD YOU SO!’ but that’s not the purpose. The point is, the hope is, is that people will think more about what they are doing – or at the very least, those not directly involved will do so.
    It’s almost impossible to think clearly, for many people, when something like this happens. But hopefully if more people are aware then we’ll see fewer of these kinds of situation.

    It’s important to publicise these stories for that reason. If even one family can be spared from losing all their money while they chase false hopes, putting extra pressure, stress and trauma on already very sick individuals (and in these cases, children) – that’s a fantastic thing.

    All the stupid, emotive, misdirected arguments from nay-sayers aside, this is important. Really, really important.

  16. #16 Chezjuan
    February 16, 2012

    My post at 11 should say “regular cells that have mutated.” My smartphone keyboard is too small…

  17. #17 anarchic teapot
    February 16, 2012

    Burzynski, PR and trolls.

    Mmm, not sure it’s entirely ineffective. After all, they’re not preaching to us, but getting the B-man as many search-engine namechecks as possible. He seems to have enlisted a number of loony fringe groups to do his promotion for him for free.

    The insane part is that he represents everything they hate, as a rule.

  18. #18 Sam C
    February 16, 2012

    Giving hope – good.

    Giving false hope – bad.

    Giving false hope in exchange for large amounts of money – immoral, unethical and should be illegal.

  19. #19 rork
    February 16, 2012

    He’s a predator, yes.

    I still think the interesting questions is, what breaks are there on any doctor using “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy”, and making it up as they go? We sequence some genes of your tumor, find a mutation or two that have targeted compounds already approved that might possibly help for that situation, and give you that. This can sound plausible, and in certain situations (particular cancer, particular mutation) is plausible enough to want to launch trials. Even scientists can get pretty scary sounding:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20921468. Yes, it’s the Von Hoff paper, again. The one where they “forget” to show you the data that every reader wanted to see, and invent some statistics that they may have fooled their own socks off with (or maybe not, it just fools some readers). JCO though, so it must have been carefully reviewed (Warning: sarcasm).

  20. #20 Denice Walter
    February 16, 2012

    @ Chezjuan:

    I think that I understand *why* people are attacted to non-toxic forms of therapy: some who aren’t well-versed in general science have an interesting idea about life energy as a source of self-healing with un-limited capacity- rather than killing cancer cells (as SBM would have it)- they are trying to increase or un-leash this life-source ( which they may call “immunity”- not to be confused with immunology) so that the body will kill the cancer itself.

    Thus, anything that interferes with or ameliorates this energy would stop it from destroying the cancer cells *naturally*. They believe that pharmaceuticals, toxins, negative emotions and various other impositions may weaken the ‘Force’ ( so to speak). Cancer woo usually seeks to strengthen either this energy or so-called immunity ( supplements, toxin removal, meditation, other arcane methods). Many tools, but none of them serviceable.

  21. #21 Calli Arcale
    February 16, 2012

    One small thing that has not been directly addressed yet in fanta.panda’s post:

    Secondly, having looked at some of his research myself, antineoplaston treatment is NON-TOXIC.

    I’m sure that’s what Burzynski wants patients to think, but acutally the antineoplastons are indeed toxic, like most chemo. (Because yes, they are chemo.) And they aren’t just a little toxic. There was another study that attempted to replicate Burzynski’s early work; it was halted prematurely because the doctors involved were finding it difficult to manage the toxicity — that is, they were actually concerned about the possibility that it would kill their patients before it would kill the cancer. I don’t think there’s any real basis for calling Burzynski’s treatment “non-toxic” or “an alternative to chemo”. It’s actually both toxic and chemo.

  22. #22 prn
    February 16, 2012

    There are a number of things about the Burzynski operation that I don’t like what I see.

    First is how much this looks like the evolution of standard oncology care, or even other medical vacuum cleaners (like polio into the 50s): expensive (check), a lot of promotion (check), exploitative public fund raising (check), ongoing dismal failures (check), some small successes fanned furiously (check), cult of personality and hubris (check).

    My question is in what way the Burnzynski situation is a product of a flawed system from the start with Baylor, the NCI “trial”, TMA, FDA with patent and power grabs. The Burzynski case surely provided valuable missionary data for the pharmas’ legal and marketing analysis (ok, ok, reason enough to hang someone) for current marginal cancer therapies of questionable effectiveness that are hideously expensive.

    Also I think Orac is unduly harsh about chemo. Normally, if the medicine is for a targetable pathway like WNT, it is called a (small molecule) targeted therapy. Only if it has generally indiscriminant toxic proprties, perhaps like pushing hypernatremia for the tumor kill, would we call (denounce) it as “chemotherapy”.

    If Burzynski’s treatments had been more overpoweringly successful, we would call his methods unorthodox, especially as an individual vs a funded established pharma corporation. In other countries, high charges for experimental treatments appear acceptable. Even in the US high charges for proximate services with nominally free experimental meds should raise the question about “free”.

  23. #23 Krebiozen
    February 16, 2012

    Calli,
    The major problem with antineoplastons, as I recall, is that they contain a lot of sodium, enough for treatment with them to induce hypernatremia (that’s high blood sodium in English). Hypernatremia can be very dangerous, especially when it happens relatively rapidly, as in an IV infusion, since it increases blood osmolality which sucks water out of tissues by osmosis, dehydrating them. Since these tissues include your brain it can be a very bad thing indeed.

  24. #24 prn
    February 16, 2012

    Long comment just hit the filter, tick-tock.

  25. #25 Puggs
    February 16, 2012

    “Secondly, having looked at some of his research myself, antineoplaston treatment is NON-TOXIC. How can a (supposedly) caring health professional look at radiation and chemotherapy and its awful side-effects and go “yeah, this is a good treatment for cancer … if you can survive the treatment itself.””

    >>> The primary reason for using a treatment isn’t that it’s “NON-TOXIC.” Bananas aren’t toxic either. That doesn’t make them an acceptable substitute for chemotherapy.

    And, in this case, the choice was between not trying toxic treatments that have virtually no hope of working (free) and trying the guy’s antineoplastons, which also have virtually no hope of working (tens of thousands of dollars).

    “Thirdly, despite saying that Burzynski’s treatment didn’t kill her, the way you write the article suggests that Burzynski’s ineffective treatment is to blame for this poor child dying”

    >>> No, the article was pretty clear that the child’s CANCER killed her. The inoperable one that other doctors confirmed couldn’t be handled by modern medicine.

    “and that he is actively trying to “prey” on his patients using these useless “proteans”(?).”

    >>> The article doesn’t suggest it- it says it pretty clearly.

    “Forshame on you! How can you say these things and not turn your judgemental gaze on chemotherapy and radiation therapy. How many people die directly as a result of those therapies?”

    >>> Again, I figure you want to pick a treatment based on how it affects your odds of survival. Chemo is toxic, and it also happens to improve survival odds in many cases, DESPITE its toxicity. This stands in stark contrast to bananas, which are non-toxic and guaranteed to do nothing about your cancer. If you had cancer, would you eat a banana or try chemo?

    “Quite frankly, you are as biased as any religious zealot out there, completely unable to accept that other less toxic and more effective treatments are out there for cancer. I doubt you would be writing this article had she gone for chemo or radiation … Sure, the antineoplaston treatment didn’t help her, but it also didn’t kill off her cells and put her through almost unbearable pain and sickness that “conventional” treatments give.”

    >>> Well crap, I could say the same thing about my banana therapy- it wouldn’t have helped her, but it also wouldn’t kill off her cells. Can I get $10,000 now?

  26. #26 JGC
    February 16, 2012

    Fantapanda, I’d respectfully suggest you’re the one who needs (in your own words) to “Get your head out of your ass and do some proper research before you spout off”.

    Burzynski’s antineoplastins are chemical metabolites (phenylacetic acid and phenyl acetyl glutamine) of the drug sodium phenylbutyrate, which has been examined extensively as a potential treatment for a number of cancers, as well as other. There’s nothing whatsoever new or ‘maverick’ about antineoplastin therapy–people started looking at phenylacetates for cancer in the late 50’s. Sodium phenylbutyrate, the parent moelcule meatoblized to form antineoplatins in the body, is approved for use in the treatment of urea cycle disorders, and is used in treatment of neuroblastomas, gliomas, and promylocytic leukemia. Sodium phenylbutyrate IS toxic, as are it’s metabolites (the maximum tolerated dose for PB is 300 mg/kg/day, and Burzynski prescribes antineoplastins at levels that could NEVER be generated by dosing with PB at this maximun dose level–we’re talking tens of grams/kg/day in many cases).

    Finally, keep in mind that the same ‘antineoplatic’ compounds Burzynski charges his patients $500 a tablet for costs pennies a gram at any pharmacy other than the one he owns–the one he insists his patients purchase their drugs from.

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    February 16, 2012

    OT- but is woo-meisterly capitalisation of celebrities’ unfortunate deaths *ever* really OT @ RI?

    Today @ NaturalNews: Mike Adams announces his new song/ music video ( as Amethios) about prescription drugs- -Heaven Can Wait- in which he ( and I quote) * reaches out to the children, teens and adults who are on psychiatric medications and who are considering taking their own lives through suicidal acts. The song inspires them to throw away their prescriptions….* Other related material over the past several days.

  28. #28 kruuth
    February 16, 2012

    Careful Orac, that reprobate Marc Stephens might come a-callin’ on this article. Based on fantompanda or whatever his name is, it looks like he’s already here.

    Hey Marc, if the FDA was holding it back, don’t you think that at least one other, perhaps sane doctor would be trying antineoplastons? sheesh.

    Anything on the Doctor’s Data v Barrett lawsuit? It’s gone mysteriously silent.

  29. #29 Dangerous Bacon
    February 16, 2012

    No matter what we say about Stan Burzynski, he has something Orac (and probably every other mainstream oncology doc) doesn’t have.

    According to his CV posted online, Burzynski holds “The Hereditary Title Of Count”. Yes, that’s right. He is Count Burzynski.

    ht_p://www.burzynskiclinic.com/images/stories/CV_DrB-2010-CURRENT.pdf

    So when you fork over a ton of money to the Burzynski Clinic for substandard care, at least you’re getting royally screwed.

  30. #30 Todd W.
    February 16, 2012

    @Dangerous Bacon

    “One fleeced customer! Ah ah ah. Two fleeced customers! Ah ah ah.” (with apologies to Sesame Street)

  31. #31 palindrom
    February 16, 2012

    Dangerous Bacon @28 — there’s some kind of joke to be made here about bloodsucking East European counts, but it escapes me.

    Hard to joke, too, imagining the pain that those poor people went through. Any parent will tell you that their worst fear, bar none, is losing their child.

  32. #32 kruuth
    February 16, 2012

    Actually Bacon, I seriously doubt the validity of that CV. In reading it, he claims he is the reciepient of the Linus Paulding Award in 2008 however a cursory check of the award reciepient list here:

    h_tp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linus_Pauling_Award

    Says that it was Thomas Bruice not Stainislaw Burzynski. Furthermore he’s not on the list of medal reciepients.

    Also, the title of “The Order of Saint Brigida” only seems to show up in his vitae, not anywhere else in a google search. The same goes for the “Order of Merit of the President of Poland”, “Cross Virtus Nobilitat”, I’m not sure about the Lady Liberty award because I can’t find info on it, same for the “Order of Reconciliation” which seems to come from St. Bennedict. To his credit, he did receive the heritage award from the Polish American Congress in 93.

  33. #33 puppygod
    February 16, 2012

    According to his CV posted online, Burzynski holds “The Hereditary Title Of Count”. Yes, that’s right. He is Count Burzynski.

    Nah, he isn’t. Burzyński is not a valid Polish Count family name. I’m not sure whether it’s a falsely attributed title or just discontinued one, but it’s not valid. He’s no more Count than you or Orac.

  34. #34 Sastra
    February 16, 2012

    Denice Walter #20 wrote:

    I think that I understand *why* people are attacted to non-toxic forms of therapy: some who aren’t well-versed in general science have an interesting idea about life energy as a source of self-healing with un-limited capacity …

    An excellent summing up, I think. From what I’ve seen this model of ‘healing’ applies to reality itself, across the board for all diseases, disorders, disasters, disfunctions, and life choices. They’ve got a vitalistic supernatural belief system which they love to dance from being a faith-based religion to being an objectively demonstrable science, back and forth, depending on what serves their purpose at the time. If you call it a faith, they bring up the evidence. If you criticize the evidence, they call it a faith. And in some fuzzy way they think they’re not being self-contradictory — because religion and science converge holistically. You just have to be spiritually attuned to realize it.

    I really appreciate both your clarity of thought, and your reports from the trenches…

  35. #35 harold
    February 16, 2012

    Could be a parody, but if it isn’t, worth a decent fisking.

    First of all, Burzynski’s trials have never gotten past Phase 1 or 2 because the FDA has been actively blocking his research or unilaterally altering his treatment protocols in the trials for the past 2 decades.

    Assertion without supporting evidence.

    Secondly, having looked at some of his research myself, antineoplaston treatment is NON-TOXIC.

    Apparently a false statement, see above.

    How can a (supposedly) caring health professional look at radiation and chemotherapy and its awful side-effects and go “yeah, this is a good treatment for cancer … if you can survive the treatment itself.”

    Completely ignorant or massively dishonest comment. Many valuable medicines, including some medicinal herbs used in traditional pre-modern medicine that actually work, antibiotics, etc, have side effects.

    Thirdly, despite saying that Burzynski’s treatment didn’t kill her, the way you write the article suggests that Burzynski’s ineffective treatment is to blame for this poor child dying

    Direct lie; the article actually makes no such suggestion.

    and that he is actively trying to “prey” on his patients using these useless “proteans”(?).

    Article clearly states that he preys on patients by taking advantage of them financially and raising false hopes, yes. Apparent ignorance of common English words “protein” and “protean” is shocking.

    Forshame on you! How can you say these things and not turn your judgemental gaze on chemotherapy and radiation therapy. How many people die directly as a result of those therapies?

    Subject changing; issue here is that Burzynski charges a lot of money for treatments that don’t work.

    Quite frankly, you are as biased as any religious zealot out there, completely unable to accept that other less toxic and more effective treatments are out there for cancer.

    Logically incorrect interpretation of article; it says that Burzynski’s methods don’t work, not that no other methods work. In fact, many cancers are curable with surgical resection.

    I doubt you would be writing this article had she gone for chemo or radiation …

    That is correct, given that the article is about Burzynski.

    Sure, the antineoplaston treatment didn’t help her,

    If you agree that the family was charged a large amount of money for treatment that didn’t work, then why are you even arguing?

    but it also didn’t kill off her cells and put her through almost unbearable pain and sickness that “conventional” treatments give.

    1) Possible, but not established. What is it like to go through this treatment?

    2) Better palliative options could have been pursued if time and money weren’t being wasted.

    Get your head out of your ass and do some proper research before you spout off about these “quacks” who don’t know anything about treating cancer. Your flippant prose tells me that you are one of these pseudo-intellectual bloggers who only find “research” that argues their point. And quite frankly, even that is lacking in this blog piece.

    A remarkable display of projection.

    Learn what “protean” and “”protein” mean before accusing others of ignorance.

    I would also like to take this moment to note that some comments defending Burzynski could be written by Burzynski himself.

  36. #36 harold
    February 16, 2012

    According to his CV posted online, Burzynski holds “The Hereditary Title Of Count”. Yes, that’s right. He is Count Burzynski.

    Dangerous Bacon @28 — there’s some kind of joke to be made here about bloodsucking East European counts, but it escapes me.

    It’s hard to think of a worse way to criticize him, than by denigrating his ethnicity and personal characteristics, though.

    As it happens, people of Polish descent and people who hold culturally significant aristocratic titles have made plenty of important contributions to science and medicine.

    Furthermore, if someone belongs to a group that is not historically associated with scientific achievement, that is irrelevant to their achievements. Prior to the nineteenth century, almost no Japanese people were involved in modern science, yet since then, people of Japanese descent have made disproportionate contributions to science and medicine, for example.

    Marie Curie, who was also Polish, of course, was unusual because there were relatively few major woman scientists in her time. Yet since then, many women have made major contributions.

    To his credit, he did receive the heritage award from the Polish American Congress in 93.

    I am willing to bet that there have been more deserving recipients as well, though.

    And in 1993, it may have been far more reasonable to hope that his ideas would pan out.

  37. #37 prn
    February 16, 2012

    Made it out of the filter at #22.

  38. #38 rw23
    February 16, 2012

    @Puggs #25:

    The primary reason for using a treatment isn’t that it’s “NON-TOXIC.” Bananas aren’t toxic either. That doesn’t make them an acceptable substitute for chemotherapy.

    Bananas are, however, radioactive. But that wouldn’t make them an acceptable substitute for radiotherapy either.

  39. #39 lilady
    February 16, 2012

    @ fanta.panda: Are you the new guy hired by Burzynski to provide public relations for Burzynski Clinic…the last guy IIRC, only brought unfavorable publicity to Burzynski and his business.

    Perhaps you are a free-lancer…enthralled with Burzynski’s line of bullshit and too offactory-challenged to smell the bullshit.

    I see that the father-son Burzynski tag team has no hospital affiliations, so this young child traveled to Houston with her parents, underwent “treatment” with anti-neoplastins and whatever else was available in the Burzynski-owned pharmacy and then stayed in a nearby motel.

    If Burzynski was really competent and had some real data about treating childhood brain stem gliomas…why then is he not affiliated with any of these hospitals that are part of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium?

    http://www.pbtc.org/public/gen_info.htm

    Perhaps the caring community who donated their time, efforts and money for the youngster, will see this blog and consider donating memorial gifts to these hospitals.

  40. #40 Travis
    February 16, 2012

    harold, maybe I am reading Dangerous Bacon’s comment incorrectly, but I do not think it is really saying much about his ethnicity or denigrating other people with aristocratic titles in Poland and eastern Europe. I am fairly certain it is simply comparing him to Count Dracula.

  41. #41 Dangerous Bacon
    February 16, 2012

    Actually it was another poster who made a reference to eastern European counts, which led to the sidetrack onto Polish achievements. I didn’t say anything about Burzynski’s ethnic background, just referred to his CV proclaiming him a Hereditary Count.

    The hereditary part is very very important, seeing as there are apparently shortcuts to Countdom, and you want to make sure people know you are a genuine aristocrat.

    ht_p://www.regaltitles.com/

  42. #42 Travis
    February 16, 2012

    Sorry Dangerous Bacon, I should have gone back to look at the actual quote, I simply thought harold had included your name, and not that it was part of the quote…being within the blockquote should have told me something.

  43. #43 palindrom
    February 16, 2012

    Travis @40 – “I am fairly certain it is simply comparing him to Count Dracula.”

    You’re exactly right.

    In my own subfield of stellar astronomy, the late Bogdan Paczynski (a Pole) was one of my all-time most favorite scientists — brilliant, endlessly generous of his time and his ideas, a simply wonderful man. I have nothing against any ethnic group, but when and East European behaves like a bloodsucker, the target is just too tempting.

  44. #44 kruuth
    February 16, 2012

    I’d like to point out that ANYONE could be awarded the title of count.

    h_tp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Count

    You could be awarded the title of count for service to the crown or to the royal family. Yes, it could be hereditary but it didn’t have to be.

  45. #45 harold
    February 16, 2012

    @Dangerousbacon etc –

    Yes, I think maybe I didn’t pull out of “troll shoot down” mode quite fast enough. Not that I don’t stand by my points, but clearly the intent here was humorous.

    I don’t know why you’re insulting Count Dracula. Sure, he peddles junky cereal, but he doesn’t charge $10,000 for it or claim it cures cancer. Or is that some other guy…

  46. #46 Adam
    February 16, 2012

    Perhaps Burzynski is the “Brave Maverick Doctor” – taken from http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=106 and used without permission.

    Another common motif found in “Brave Maverick Doctors” is the academic iconoclast. These “Brave Maverick Doctors” come from an academic setting, where evidence-based medicine is the gold-standard (although this is changing). Frustrated with their inability to make their research peers see what is so plainly the truth, the iconoclast lashes out against “entrenched dogma”.

    In reality, the reason the iconoclastic “Brave Maverick Doctors” are unable to persuade their peers is that they lack the data necessary to support their claims. In what the psychologists refer to as projection, the iconoclasts often accuse their peers of “arrogance” and “inflexibility”, when it is they who are being “arrogant” by assuming that they are right when they lack the data and “inflexible” by refusing to see that their claims are unsupported (and may, in fact, be wrong).

    The career trajectory of the iconoclast is very dependent on whether they have gained tenure. If they have, there is little their institution can do to sack them. If not, they are frequently let go at the earliest convenience. Paradoxically, the sacked iconoclast usually has the most promising future – for a while. Their rise is often meteoric, as they are often, in the eyes of the media and their “fans”, seen as a “martyr”.

    Their lack of supporting data is rarely noticed by the media, as most reporters – even science reporters – have no idea how to tell conjecture and hand-waving from real data. The public – on the whole no more educated about science than the reporters – sees only the poor individual who wants to tell them “…what they don’t want you to know”.

    The fact that universities and regulatory agencies may not want the public to “know” these things because they are wrong never seems to occur to people. In a stunning demonstration of “reverse psychology” the very fact that “scientists” or “the government” have denounced their claims as “nonsense” convinces many people that they must have at least some validity. It often convinces the iconoclasts, too.

    Recently, during the run-up to his hearing before the General Medical Council, Dr. Andrew Wakefield (an iconoclastic “Brave Maverick Doctor”), with no apparent sense of irony, uttered the following quote from Vaclav Havel:

    “Seek the company of those who seek the truth, and run away from those who have found it.”

    Considering that he has, for nearly nine years, insisted that he had “…found the truth…” about the MMR vaccine despite mounting data to the contrary and a growing body of evidence that his own research was flawed – not only ethically but scientifically as well – the use of this particular quote can only mean that Dr. Wakefield is encouraging his supporters to “run away”.

    Yes, iconoclastic “Brave Maverick Doctors” are often not self-aware. But they have no motivation to be. Examining their actions can only lead to doubt, and doubt can only lead to trouble – so, they cannot examine their own claims and they cannot doubt. Their career depends on it.

  47. #47 herr doktor bimler
    February 16, 2012

    A few decades ago, New Zealand had Milan Brych.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milan_Brych
    The parallels with Burzynski are not perfect… Brych is *Central* European, and his claim to a doctorate was completely fraudulent. But he had a similar business model, and a similar proportion of failed cases to bury.
    Brych served a prison sentence in the US, then went to ground in Switzerland, where he may or may not be setting up shop as an immunologist.

  48. #48 Zach Miller
    February 16, 2012

    Man, I was kind of hoping that fanta.panda would come back to attempt to “defend” her/her “position” in the face of such overwhelming evidence against it. I’m always fascinated to see cognative dissonance on such a massive scale. The mental backflips necessary to even raise the intial points are…awe-inspiring.

  49. #49 meg
    February 16, 2012

    @Denice

    I think that I understand *why* people are attacted to non-toxic forms of therapy: some who aren’t well-versed in general science have an interesting idea about life energy as a source of self-healing with un-limited capacity- rather than killing cancer cells (as SBM would have it)- they are trying to increase or un-leash this life-source ( which they may call “immunity”- not to be confused with immunology) so that the body will kill the cancer itself.

    I’ve never gotten this idea – life as a self healing force. Technically, all life has a time limit – nothing lives forever. If life were self healing and renewing, why do we have death at all? Why does it work for these ‘treatments’ and not old age?

    @Todd W – thanks for making me laugh. Loved the Count as a child . . .

  50. #50 Denice Walter
    February 16, 2012

    @ Sastra:

    Thank you for your kind words.( Believe me, the trenches aren’t all that bad : I have satellite and wi-fi) I believe that my gifts ( and lord knows what they are!) enable me to navigate reasonably well in the scepti-sphere. You see, we have the unenviable task of keeping the Enlightenment from flickering out entirely in an era of mind-shattering dimness.

    The general public is unfortunately, ill-educated in the sciences** and starved for information about things that affect their daily lives- all too often, they find answers conveniently provided by charlatans and pseudo-scientists who ostentatiously parade banality piled upon idiocy multiplied by inaccuracy squared, wait for applause and then ask politely for credit card account numbers.

    Being that the world isn’t fair, not everyone can get a great education: I like to think that I’m working against that.

    ** not fabulous in the humanities either.

  51. #51 Denice Walter
    February 16, 2012

    @ meg:

    But you see, they’re speaking of the life force itself- that burgeoning, resplendent energy that pushes forth the tender shoots and causes the flowers to bloom in the spring ( tra-la!); it causes wounds to heal spontaneously and animals to reproduce; even the algae bursts forth greenly upon the pond and plasmodia and bacteria multiply and are fruitful. No, life is incredibly, powerfully self-actualising as long as you keep the channels open and freely flowing with its currents and don’t get it all bogged down and mucked up with thinking about death. Or thinking in general.

  52. #52 davidp
    February 16, 2012

    Sadly cancers have “life energy as a source of self-healing with unlimited capacity”, and more of it than the rest of the body, which is why cancers kill. They have sufficient genetic variablity to work their way around treatments and enough “life energy” to revive afterwards. That’s why metastasizing solid tumors are almost always incurable.

    “Natural life energy” – what makes you think it’s on your side?

  53. #53 Bronze Dog
    February 16, 2012

    I remember reading my D&D Manual of the Planes and its entry on the Positive Energy Plane. Even if a character can survive the lack of air (which IIRC, simply ignores hit points), they’re continuously healed, and if they’re at max HP, they get pumped so full of positive energy, they eventually explode. The book also notes that diseases aren’t cured by the positive energy: The germs are getting energized just as much as you are.

    I think it’s funny that a fantasy game thinks through the implications of vitalism a little more than most vitalists I’ve met.

  54. #54 amphiox
    February 16, 2012

    Sure, the antineoplaston treatment didn’t help her, but it also didn’t kill off her cells and put her through almost unbearable pain and sickness that “conventional” treatments give.

    And you know what other conventional treatment also doesn’t kill of her cells or put her through almost unbearable pain (and just who the hell are you to make judgements about another person’s pain? What are you, psychic?)?

    Nothing. Because that IS the conventional treatment for incurable brainstem glioma. And this treatment is FREE.

    For this sad disease, chemo and radiation don’t work, and once the cancer advances beyond a certain stage, THEY AREN’T THE RECOMMENCED CONVENTIONAL THERAPIES.

    What Burzinsky did in this case was SCAM that poor family, and STEAL from those poor parents. He STOLE not only money, but TIME as well, as instead of getting their hopes falsely raised and wasting their time traveling to and attending that clinic, they could have spent the time making peace with the inevitable and concentrating on making the child’s last days as pleasant as possible.

    They could have taken her to Disneyland, or wherever else she wanted to go, with the money that Burzinsky cheated them out of.

  55. #55 Andreas Johansson
    February 17, 2012

    Nitpick: Counts aren’t royalty, so being screwed by one isn’t particularly royal. You could say you’re being comitally screwed, however.

  56. #56 meg
    February 17, 2012

    @ Denice

    See, there’s my problem. My father was a keen amateur gardener, so I learnt very early on the necessity of pruning – especially his prize roses. I was obviously indoctrinated far too early in the theory that sometimes, you gotta do some damage to get results. Explains everything.

    Kinda

    :)

  57. #57 Sauceress
    February 17, 2012

    Denise Walter #50

    The general public is unfortunately, ill-educated in the sciences** and starved for information about things that affect their daily lives- all too often, they find answers conveniently provided by charlatans and pseudo-scientists who ostentatiously parade banality piled upon idiocy multiplied by inaccuracy squared, wait for applause and then ask politely for credit card account numbers.

    Spot on Denise!

  58. #58 Krebiozen
    February 17, 2012

    I find it odd that the same people who believe that our bodies have all-powerful healing energies that can be directed by mere thoughts also believe that our bodies are so feeble that they are incapable of detoxifying and excreting toxins. Even “acidic foods” apparently overwhelm our systems so we fill up with acidic toxins like a slop bucket. Still, a foolish consistency, and all that…

  59. #59 Denice Walter
    February 17, 2012

    Oh, we’re so reality-based! Do you know how much money some of us @ RI could make if only we used our skills to sell people on nonsensial ideas? We wouldn’t need any of Pharma.COM’s filthy lucre! We’d be rolling in our own earnings.

    A long time ago, I had the opportunity to write crappy scripts for a ( moderately well-known) *gentleman* who produced really awful films. I would have made money and not have bothered with those annoying and time-consuming social sciences. My own mother advised me to take the offer than go back to grad school in a few years. Actually, the money came anyway via more acceptable avenues.

    Still, I believe that a few of us here could certainly Sokal alt med advocates in a big way. There are venues out there who present the most atrocious squawking that masquerades as writing. You know who they are.

  60. #60 reezen
    February 17, 2012

    dr burzynskys’ treatment saved my fathers’ life. his stage4 aggressive prostrate cancer is no more and we have the before and after MRIs as proof. it took six months.

  61. #61 Chris
    February 17, 2012

    Excellent, reezen, now point us to the case report of the clinical trial he was in on PubMed. Though it might help you to find it if you spelled Dr. Burzynski’s name correctly.

  62. #62 Science Mom
    February 17, 2012

    What’s “prostrate cancer”? Do you get it from lying down?

    @ reezen, there is no reason to believe that your father’s cancer could also not have been remitted by conventional means, that is why we have studies comparing methods and treatment v. no treatment. You simply can’t make that claim and people like you are who charlatans like Burzynski rely upon rather than put his claims to valid tests.

  63. #63 W. Kevin Vicklund
    February 17, 2012

    6 years ago my step-father was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer. He underwent conventional treatment (surgical resection, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy [specifically, chemical castration]). Two days ago, he called to wish me happy birthday, and we talked a week ago about the likelihood that he’ll retire sometime this year – not because he can’t do the work anymore, but because he might not retain all his benefits if he doesn’t. So no, I’m not all that impressed by your anecdote, reezen.

  64. #64 Dangerous Bacon
    February 17, 2012

    Krebiozen: “I find it odd that the same people who believe that our bodies have all-powerful healing energies that can be directed by mere thoughts also believe that our bodies are so feeble that they are incapable of detoxifying and excreting toxins. Even “acidic foods” apparently overwhelm our systems so we fill up with acidic toxins like a slop bucket.”

    I would like to quote this on another forum.

    Then again, I am still waiting for posters on that forum to explain why on the one hand they are aghast over mainstream chemotherapy’s toxic side effects, but enthusiastically promote bloodroot pastes that burn away skin and soft tissue indiscriminately, laetrile that metabolizes into cyanide in the body and Burzynski’s toxic unapproved chemo combinations.

  65. #65 Krebiozen
    February 17, 2012

    I would like to quote this on another forum.

    Please do. I doubt it will have any effect whatsoever. Those people firmly believe that if ‘black salve’ eats away tissue it must have been cancerous. They probably also support ingestion of MMS (aka bleach) and OSR#1 (aka industrial chelator), but avoid most cosmetics because of the scary chemicals they contain.

  66. #66 DLC
    February 17, 2012

    So, I can treat you with chemo plus my own special serum — Homeopathic Uranium 238 at 40C dilution* — and charge you 10,000.00 a week ?
    mega cool.

    *as most water molecules have been on the same planet as some quantity of U238, I’ll just be using tap water as my special serum. I can always publish my initial results in a fake journal and then declare I’m conducting a phase III clinical trial. . . for which I can charge big money.
    Ka-Ching!

  67. #67 Edith Prickly
    February 17, 2012

    I find it odd that the same people who believe that our bodies have all-powerful healing energies that can be directed by mere thoughts also believe that our bodies are so feeble that they are incapable of detoxifying and excreting toxins. Even “acidic foods” apparently overwhelm our systems so we fill up with acidic toxins like a slop bucket. Still, a foolish consistency, and all that…

    I know, that never fails to amaze me either. To use a technical term, the woomongers always get it completely ass-backwards. Cancer, AIDS, MS? Pfft, no biggie, your body can fight those off by itself. But simple processes like digesting and eliminating food? Oh no, your liver, kidneys and colon can’t possibly cope with that toxic overload! You need a special diet, and supplements, and a water filter, and colon cleansing, and crystals to rebalance your energy, and a totally not-cancer-causing sunbed!

  68. #68 Bronze Dog
    February 17, 2012

    I know, that never fails to amaze me either. To use a technical term, the woomongers always get it completely ass-backwards. Cancer, AIDS, MS? Pfft, no biggie, your body can fight those off by itself. But simple processes like digesting and eliminating food? Oh no, your liver, kidneys and colon can’t possibly cope with that toxic overload! You need a special diet, and supplements, and a water filter, and colon cleansing, and crystals to rebalance your energy, and a totally not-cancer-causing sunbed!

    I bow to your observational ability. That’s one layer of the fractal wrongness and double-think that hadn’t occurred to me.

  69. #69 Marry Me, Mindy
    February 17, 2012

    Denice @59

    I sometimes wonder how much easier things cpuld be if I didn’t have scruples? There are a lot of schemes I could come up with to take advantage of people’s gullibility. And they would even be legal. Just not very ethical.

  70. #70 Agrippina
    February 17, 2012

    Eligibility criteria for entry into Dr. B’s trials that include brain stem glioma stipulate that subjects have had radiation therapy. Maybe the news story omitted this?

  71. #71 Denice Walter
    February 17, 2012

    @ Marry Me, Mindy:

    Pablo, if we look at woo, pseudo-psych and investment schemes- there are thousands of ways to legally relieve people of their excess cash. Last year I looked into a scheme that “taught” people how to predict trends in the markets- if you paid a subscription you’d get all sorts of information via their websites and offers to take “seminars” to learn how to use their system: in short, you paid them to see more advertising. It was hilarious but my information did prevent a few people from signing on the dotted line.

    On a lighter note, I truly believe that several of our talented and brilliant commenters are capable of a Sokal: have you seen some of the claptrap ‘published’ at AoA or NaturalNews? I’d be willing to bet that a devious person could write up nonsense that fits their agenda and be accepted: this would also illustrate how easily they are swayed by weak- or invented- evidence.

  72. #72 Mark M
    February 17, 2012

    Hear, hear.

    The man is an evil POS. If I knew how to cure children’s cancers, my God I would not charge a penny, ever.

    Who the hell would?

  73. #73 Phoenix Woman
    February 17, 2012

    prn @22:

    “Also I think Orac is unduly harsh about chemo.”

    Orac’s not being harsh about chemo. He’s being harsh — and justly so — about the Count’s pretending that part of what he’s doing isn’t chemo.

  74. #74 Dianne
    February 18, 2012

    If I knew how to cure children’s cancers, my God I would not charge a penny, ever.

    Who the hell would?

    Someone who’d rather charge those who could pay so that they could earn a living treating children’s cancers and therefore treat more children than if they did it only as a hobby, not paying. That’s what insurance is for.

    Most cancers that children get are, in fact, curable. The long term survival rate for Hodgkin’s lymphoma is over 80%, ALL over 90%. Some can’t be cured and honest oncologists admit that and don’t administer or charge for unnecessary and unhelpful treatment. Or charge for participation in a study. Or refuse to accept patients who can’t pay. Just a few things that separate Burzynski’s practice from that of an ethical oncologist.

  75. #75 squirrelelite
    February 18, 2012

    For a little extra perspective, St John is a fairly small town with a population of 1295. So, the 600 people who attended the fundraiser were almost half the people in the whole town and over 10% of the people in the whole County!

    Such a huge drain on the resources of a small community could have been put to much better use, such as a donation to St Jude’s Childrens Hospital which is doing real research.

  76. #76 Anton P. Nym
    February 18, 2012

    If I knew how to cure children’s cancers, my God I would not charge a penny, ever.

    Who the hell would?

    Well, I would… but I wouldn’t charge a penny more than what was needed to keep the lights on so I could keep helping kids. Maybe that’d be nothing, if a big charity paid the bills, or if you could directly charge the insurer, or there was some other arrangement like a sponsorship or something; ideally that would be the case… but the funds to keep running would have to come from somewhere.

    What’s odious with Count Bloodsucker’s practic is the huge markup charged for essentially nothing, with the treatment not covered by insurance because it’s at best one step from witch-doctory.

    — Steve

  77. #77 flip
    February 19, 2012

    @67 Edith

    Yes but you see, cancer, AIDs etc are natural processes and diseases. Whereas stuffing your face full of ‘unnatural’ processed foods, injecting vaccines, etc are not natural and are therefore affronts to our bodies.

    Or something…

  78. #78 ConspicuousCarl
    February 19, 2012

    If this guy’s fancy cancer treatment actually worked, the amount of money he charges would be completely irrelevant because he personally can’t treat everyone who would need such a thing at any price. The real crime would be his refusal to carry out proper phase 3 trials to show the world that it actually works, which would allow doctors all over the planet to help people. Fortunately, his junk doesn’t work so no big deal.

    Also, SHAME on all of you for having this big “Count” discussion about Bursynski and none of you managing to come up with the name “Count Quackula”.

  79. #79 lilady
    February 19, 2012

    The saddest part of this story is that Burzynski preyed upon the family of a little girl and the compassion of the small community where she lived.

    No one likes to see a young life unfulfilled and extinguished by a deadly cancer…it just seems so unfair. But, for Burzynski it presented a golden opportunity to fleece the good people of St. John.

    We probably will never know how the child’s tumor was diagnosed or what possible treatments were tried and failed to relieve her symptoms or to buy her more time…or which type of glioma was diagnosed:

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/child-brain-stem-glioma/Patient/page1

    What we can assume is that the youngster was taken away from her extended family and friends to undergo “treatment” at the Burzynski clinic and that she returned home to die around the first of January, after Burzynski’s “treatment”.

    During her remaining few weeks of life, her parents stated that she was more comfortable after steroid treatments were discontinued. We have learned a few things about the Burzynski treatment, including the enlarging of the tumor growth, which Burynski tells his patients is “a good sign” and evidence that the cancer is responding to treatment…and eventually the tumor will shrink dramatically.

    Why am I so cynical about Burzynski’s use of steroids to shrink the child’s tumor? Is it because Burzynski did not want brain stem herniation to occur and have the youngster die in Houston while under his care?

    The man is evil personified and a charlatan and…no Steve, Burzynski is not one step from witch-doctory, he has gone miles beyond witch-doctory.

  80. #80 NZ Sceptic
    February 20, 2012

    It’s happening everywhere, Burzynski, or any other quack. It’s all just as fraudulent and the issue of this extra special blood test in Greece – mentioned in the link below -sounds completely suspect too. It’s an industry, fleecing families of the terminally ill. How can anyone stoop so low? http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/6397486/Doctors-views-offend-family-of-cancer-boy

  81. #81 prn
    February 20, 2012

    Not sure about that “quack” part whether chemosensitivity in general or the blood sample “capture and culture”. Chemosensitivity testing is an emergent field for individualized cancer treatment, like Rational Therapeutics and Wiesenthal Group in the US.

    The Greek site used cultured tumor cells from blood sampling, which introduces uncertainties. I have to say I am partial to chemo testing actual cells from the gross tumor sample. Perhaps if one couldn’t obtain adequate amounts of viable tumor (or missed a previous chance), one would try it. Cancer treatments without individualization or more biomarkers look kind of quacky or dangerous to me.

  82. #82 Orac
    February 20, 2012

    Chemosensitivity testing panels, as currently constituted, don’t work, particularly the variety where cells are cultured from tumors. I’d love it if they did, but they don’t. As for Burzynski, what he does is a weak parody of genomic testing to predict tumor sensitivity to various targeted agents, as I explained in detail here{

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/12/personalized_gene-targeted_cancer_therapy.php

  83. #83 David N. Brown
    February 21, 2012

    ” How much of that money went straight into Burzysnki’s pockets I don’t know…”

    Something I have wondered about intermitently is how much even Burzynski himself controls or benefits from “his” operation. By comparison, having read about the far more brazen fraud associated with Hulda Clark, it has struck me as quite possible that a good deal of “her” enterprise (esp. the notorious Mexican “clinics”) may have literally been controlled by organized crime, presumably leaving not much room for Clark herself to exert authority or even get the best cut. Mightn’t something similar (if PROBABLY far more subtle) have befallen Burzynski? Here, an over-promoted “inner circle” who sincerely fall for Burzynski’s claims or just a “personality cult” atmosphere; there, a crew of yes-men who know they won’t get paid for saying what others don’t want to hear; over there, outside “help” from mercenaries no more concerned with the well-being of the clinic than for its patients… Multiply over thirty years, and it may well be that most of the control, andeven the money, is out of Burzynski’s hands

  84. #84 prn
    February 21, 2012

    Sorry, Orac. A quick spray with an old Burzynski philippic (I don’t favor SB), or even one brand of molecular profiling narrowly applied with multiple toxic adjuvants, seems wholly inadequate. I would highly suspect cultured cell results, too. I’ve always greatly favored samples from in situ over lab (re)creations, however I’m a little wary of calling cultured tumor cells outright “quackery”.

    Chemosensitivity testing panels, as currently constituted, don’t work
    That statement is at risk of great overgeneralization, and being an avatism, despite the following.
    Are there technologies that won’t work? Yes.
    Are there immature technologies? Yes
    Are there old tests that failed? Yes
    If you set this objection at 1990, I could agree.

    Are there chemosensitivity tests or molecular profiles that correlated with future success and appeared to predict successful treatments or unusual results? Yes.

    Perhaps, a better starting point is whether there are situations that such tests are ever useful or even highly predictive. As I stated here last year (Google RI+prn+cimetidine, or CSLEX), I think that there are – just no one in America seems to be doing much homework on good, cheap answers, even those shown 10 years ago such as CRC tissue profiled with CA19-9 and CSLEX to apply cimetidine as a CRC adjuvant with metronomic 5FU and other non-, low toxicity biomodulators.

  85. #85 Orac
    February 21, 2012

    One notes that you haven’t provided any peer-reviewed evidence suggesting the utility of in vitro chemosensitivity testing. This is a different thing than molecular profiling.

  86. #86 prn
    February 22, 2012

    I’ve had a little of both testing done. The cell kill tests confirmed a unique opportunity where standard=failed, and the oncologists were independently pessimistic, like passe’ last year. And high dose cimetidine may have directed a massive granulocytic attack mentioned in the first path report, similar to cimetidine and dendritic cell research discussed in earlier papers. Molecular profile includes iNOS, COX2, CSLEX and CA19-9 positive or over expressed.

    I’ll let Weisenthal of Weisenthal Cancer Group and Nagourney of of Rational Therapeutics discuss the chemosensitivity testing situation.

    Also ChemoFX has a recent paper that may reflect cultured cell test progress (not sure).

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