I didn’t think I’d be writing about Stanislaw Burzynski again so soon, but to my surprise a very good article in Newsweek describing cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski popped up in my Google Alerts yesterday. I hadn’t expected much in the way of news coverage about Burzynski for several months, given that the second half of Burzynski’s trial before the Texas Medical Board had been delayed by his having suffered a heart attack and isn’t expected to begin again for several months. Entitled Cancer “visionary” Stanislaw Burzynski stands trial for unprecedented medical malfeasance and by Tamar Wilner, it’s the sort of article I like to see in the mainstream media but, unfortunately, fail to see often enough. Instead, unfortunately, far more common are articles and films using sympathetic cancer patients to try to defend Burzynski. I say I was “surprised” by it because, although I do remember being in contact with Wilner in November, I had more or less forgotten about our exchange and had no idea when or if the article would be published. I have, after all, learned over the years that just because a journalist contacts you about an article doesn’t necessarily mean that the article will ever see print.

The Newsweek article begins with the story of a patient. It’s one who I haven’t blogged about before, surprisingly:

When Sandra Cohen was diagnosed with breast cancer, she did whatever she could to avoid chemotherapy. She took homeopathic remedies and herbs, and she changed her diet. She even tried laser therapy. Nothing worked. When she reached stage IV—the cancer metastasized to her lungs, clavicle bone and lymph nodes—her doctors were shocked. “The doctors here just kind of shook their heads and said, ‘How did you let this go so far?’” she recalls.

But she didn’t give up. Instead, she went to Stanislaw Burzynski.

It turns out that Cohen is like a lot of Burzynski patients about whom I’ve blogged. She appears to have been helped by conventional medicine but credits Burzynski, although it’s not clear to me whether she is joking or not, as the passage is somewhat ambiguous:

Sandra Cohen is a Burzynski success story—sort of. She went to him seeking antineoplastons, and when she didn’t qualify, she reluctantly started on chemotherapy and later agreed to surgery. Five years later, she is cancer-free. “Dr. Burzynski saved my life,” Cohen says.

I wish there had been a bit more detail given, as it’s very difficult for me to analyze this case the way I’ve analyzed other Burzynski patients. More important is the description to a wide audience of Burzynski’s malfeasance. Kudos to the editor who chose the term “unprecedented medical malfeasance” to describe Burzynski’s activities over the last four decades. If there is a precedence to what Burzynski has done, I am unaware of it. Certainly, I’m unaware of anyone who’s practiced this way as long as Burzynski has and gotten away with charging patients such outrageous fees to administer an unproven cancer medication. As I’ve discussed more times than I can remember, he’s been doing this at least since around 1977, possibly earlier.

Let’s recap the TMB charges:

In a 48-page complaint, the Texas Medical Board says Burzynski and his staff knowingly misled patients, attracting them to the clinic with the promise of being included in trials for antineoplastons, when they knew most of the patients wouldn’t qualify. The doctor or his staff told patients they would get the antineoplastons, before charging large retainers and ordering other treatments. The Burzynski clinic admits that about 5,700 of its 8,000 patients have received treatment other than antineoplastons.

Yes, this is the “bait and switch” Burzynski does. When he can’t give antineoplastons because a patient doesn’t meet the inclusion criteria for one of his trials, Burzynski offers him his incompetent version of “personalized gene-targeted cancer therapy” for dummies often containing sodium phenylbutyrate, all the while bragging risibly about being a “pioneer” in the field of genomic medicine.

I also like how Wilner grasps the essence of Burzynski’s “make it up as you go along” claims for his “personalized gene-targeted therapy”:

On its website, the Burzynski Clinic says it offers “personalized cancer therapy,” using genetic analysis to customize treatment for each patient. But in expert testimony for the medical board, Dr. Cynthia Wetmore, director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research at Emory–Children’s Pediatric Research Center in Atlanta, said, “There’s not a possible way to tell what drug is helping and what drug is not helping. The drugs are given in unstandard [ sic ] combinations that never have been tested. They’re given in unstandard doses that are not known to be effective or safe. And combining them is experimenting on humans, which cannot be done outside a clinical study. That’s unethical. ”

Indeed.

Burzynski’s response sounds reasonable if you don’t know what he’s really doing:

Burzynski takes a different view—he says the drug combinations are evidence of his innovative approach to medicine. In an email to his former lawyer, Richard Jaffe, in January 2015, he wrote, “It takes a single pioneer to abolish dogma and save countless lives. This is our contribution to medical science.” Burzynski argued that it’s unfeasible to restrict practitioners only to tested drug combinations, because with almost 100 cancer drugs, testing every combination of five agents would result in “hundreds of thousands of trials.”

Well, yes, that’s true in a way, but that’s not the only way to do proper clinical trials of new drug combinations based on genomic testing. Has Burzynski ever heard of, for example, the SHIVA trial? Basically, it was a large clinical trial testing conventional therapy for cancer against molecularly targeted therapy based on tumor molecular profiling. Patients with metastatic cancer would be randomized to standard of care or to the sort of approach that Burzynski does. The difference, of course, is that the doctors doing the gene profiling know what they are doing, at least as much as it is possible to know in an area like this, given the uncertainties. They also had very carefully defined protocols about what to choose when certain gene mutations popped up. Guess what? The trial still disappointed. There was no difference between conventional treatment and personalized therapy in progression-free survival. I still believe there’s great promise for “precision medicine” using gene profiling to guide therapy like this, but it’s clear that we haven’t figured out how to do it right yet and that we lack good drugs for a lot of the molecular targets we discover.

Is there any reason to think that Burzynski can do it right when the best minds in genomic medicine have yet to crack this nut? No, there is not. I was particularly heartened to see Andrew Vickers agree. Vickers, you might recall, doesn’t like skeptics very much because of—shall we say?—a bit of insolence aimed at his acupuncture studies. In any case, Wilner recounts what regular readers have heard about since 2011, namely how Burzynski charges huge sums of money as “case management fees” to administer antineoplastons, how he downplays the toxicity of his magic antineoplastons, and how he has misinterpreted imaging studies. She even quotes Burzynski’s lawyer’s famous remark about how Burzynski’s clinical trials were a “joke” designed to let him treat whomever he wanted to treat with antineoplastons.

Wilner also asks a question that we all ask: Why does the FDA let these studies go on? The response is unsatisfying. First, as with most skeptics who’ve tried to ask the FDA the same question, the FDA simply refused to answer, leading to this observation:

Yale University oncology professor Joseph Paul Eder argues that it’s not really the FDA’s job to stop trials just because a drug doesn’t do anything. The system isn’t built that way. “Typically, whoever’s funding [the trial], the institution, NIH, or somebody else, would say, ‘You’re not meeting your goals. We’re going to need to stop the study,’” Eder says. Since Burzynski funds his own trials—at least in part through patient fees— and hasn’t established a partnership with any institution, there’s never been anyone to apply the brakes.

Technically, Eder is correct, but the answer is unsatisfying. Technically, it’s the job of the institutional review board and/or funding source to stop the trial. Of course, as I’ve documented before, Burzynski’s IRB is run by one of his cronies, and there’s no funding source to answer to. It’s a loophole that Burzynski’s been slithering through for 38 years.

However, it’s not entirely true that the FDA has no role. The FDA often has a lot to say about the design of clinical trials to be performed in order to develop evidence to use in support of an application for FDA approval, which is what Burzynski’s trials are intended for, at least if you believe Burzynski and his sycophants. Also, as we have seen, the FDA has shut Burzynski’s clinical trials down many times, seemingly never permanently despite massive violations of federal regulations overseeing clinical trials. Apparently, even the death of a child is not enough for the FDA to shut Burzynski down permanently. After each time the FDA inspects him or issues partial clinical holds, Burzynski issues soothing responses that somehow convince the FDA that, yes, this time Burzynski really, really, really will be good and play by the rules. In this, the FDA reminds me of Charlie Brown, with Burzynski being Lucy, who promises not to pull the football away again but always does.

And so it has been going for nearly 40 years.

Will the TMB finally stop Burzynski this time, afte so many failed attempts before. Will 2016 finally be the year that he’s shut down? It probably won’t be in 2016. With all the delays, it’s highly unlikely that the TMB will be able to issue a decision this year now. I am, however, still hopeful for 2017.

But not too hopeful.

Comments

  1. #1 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    February 23, 2016

    Sandra Cohen is a Burzynski success story—sort of. She went to him seeking antineoplastons, and when she didn’t qualify, she reluctantly started on chemotherapy and later agreed to surgery. Five years later, she is cancer-free. “Dr. Burzynski saved my life,” Cohen says.

    I read this as being facetious. That is, Ms. Cohen went to Burzynski, didn’t “qualify” for his bogus trials so sought conventional treatment elsewhere; thus Burzynski sort of saved her life. I do enjoy seeing Burzynski getting a wider audience for his shenanigans. Well done.

  2. #2 Orac
    February 23, 2016

    Personally, I think it’s kind of unclear whether she was serious or not. If she were joking and I had written it, I would have added a cue to make it very clear, such as, “She said, jokingly” or “She joked.”

  3. #3 Eric Lund
    February 23, 2016

    Do we know how Dr. B’s recovery from that heart attack is progressing? The 15 January post linked above mentions that Dr. B needed to undergo a series of procedures as part of that recovery. Sometimes that process goes smoothly, but sometimes it doesn’t, and it sounds to me like there is a nonzero chance that Dr. B will be retiring involuntarily no matter what the TMB decides.

  4. #4 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    February 23, 2016

    The FDA certainly has options available to them to shut down Burzynski’s clinical trials. OHRP could also take action, as could the FTC.

    Frankly, I’m amazed that FDA hasn’t revoked his IRB’s authorization to approve studies, given the number of violations they’ve had, many of which have gone unanswered.

  5. #5 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    February 23, 2016

    Personally, I think it’s kind of unclear whether she was serious or not. If she were joking and I had written it, I would have added a cue to make it very clear, such as, “She said, jokingly” or “She joked.”

    Oh agreed. That particular paragraph is not clearly written.

  6. #6 Eric Lund
    February 23, 2016

    Todd@4: IIRC Burzynski has some powerful allies in Congress–the sort who can hint to the FDA top brass that bad things are likely to happen to their budget if they are too aggressive in going after Burzynski. So while they might in theory have the power to go after Burzynski’s IRB, in practice they don’t. Of course that’s a bad precedent because any other IRB they threaten to shut down can point to Burzynski’s IRB, but that’s power politics for you.

  7. #7 JeffM
    February 23, 2016

    “Sandra Cohen is a Burzynski success story—sort of. She went to him seeking antineoplastons, and when she didn’t qualify, she reluctantly started on chemotherapy and later agreed to surgery. Five years later, she is cancer-free. ”

    Wait a second…she had three mets then reluctantly started chemotherapy and surgery? And she’s now cancer free? Last I heard, metastatic BC is incurable.

    I call this for what it is…more anecdotal BS.

  8. #8 Gray Squirrel
    February 23, 2016

    I’m inclined to agree with Eric @ 6: powerful friends in Congress.

    This by way of what happened to FBI and Missouri State Police after they each published reports on domestic terrorism that highlighted groups such as “militias” that have sympathizers in Congress. The Congresscritters kicked up a storm and the law enforcement agencies stopped discussing the subject in public. Though, as we see with FBI & Oregon State Police’s brilliant handing of the Malheur/Bundy situation (a couple dozen arrests and only one casualty, when it could have been a couple dozen casualties including law enforcement & innocent civilians), backing down in public didn’t interfere with doing their jobs effectively.

    It would appear that if Burzynski does have allies in Congress (he only really needs one for this), they have successfully cowed FDA. That would be an excellent topic for further investigative reporting. Ideal case, get the goods before November so the voters can weigh in.

    Something else to consider. What’s the probability that Brzynski is trying to run out the clock on the election, on the basis that certain candidates’ stated views (such as supporting anti-vax BS including “parents’ right to choose”) imply that they may be more friendly to Brzynski continuing his activity? If that’s the case, then depending on what happens in November, he may be able to extend his free ride for some additional years (depending on which elected office is relevant here). This calls for more journalism, but pinning down candidates on all the relevant issues will not be easy.

    Reasonable people should prefer that government agencies can do their jobs regardless of politics, and ensuring that outcome requires an informed & engaged public.

    _Newsweek_ got the ball rolling here, so that’s a good start.

  9. #9 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    February 23, 2016

    Wasn’t there some work being done to get one of the House committees to investigate why FDA allowed Burzynski to start doing his trials again? If Bob Blaskiewicz is reading, any updates on your efforts?

  10. #10 Kiiri
    February 23, 2016

    Good article. I am somewhat surprised because usually they are way more biased to the pro-quackery side. We can only hope that somehow Burzynski will be shut down so that he can stop profiting off of other people’s desperation.

  11. #11 sadmar
    February 23, 2016

    I’m amazed that FDA hasn’t revoked his IRB’s authorization

    IIRC Burzynski has some powerful allies in Congress

    I can’t say I’m “amazed” by regulatory inaction… ‘Puzzled’ maybe? I too find Prof. Eder’s explanation, errr, “unsatisfying”. It seems Burzynski may be in a bit of a gray area, but one where the FDA has the latitude to do something if they wanted to, and thus ‘it’s not our job’ translates as ‘we don’t want this to be our job”. So we’re still left with “why?”.

    And I’m curious about the nitty gritty of how this works. “Powerful allies in Congress” might be one clue, but it doesn’t strike me as any kind of thorough explanation. I can’t imagine pols with power being willing to expend that much of their political capital protecting the Burz. If he has allies of the sort that can influence the FDA by dropping hints about budgets, hat doesn’t mean they’d necessariy do that for him. To the extent Stan has friends in high places, I wonder who they are (have any names, Eric?), just how friendly they are, how much they’re willing to do for him, and most importantly what their motives might be. What do Stan – or doing things that help Stan (perhaps incidentally/) – offer them in return?

    It might not take much to disuade the FDA. I’m sure they have a lot on their plate, and a finite budget of funds and person-hours to use in pursuing the greater good. They may have looked at Burzynski, and just on the basis of the legal skills of Richard Jaffe, done a cost/benefit analysis that concluded the good done by reining in Stan wouldn’t warrant the difficulty and expense in comparison to other uses their resources. Or, if they were on-the-bubble about, just a slight amount of friction might have tipped the scales.

    As Orac suggested in an earlier post, renewed interest in the Burz by the TMB may be due to Jaffe’s departure as his attorney. Perhaps that change will change the calculation for the Feds as well. ??

    However, outside of the whole domain of medical licensing and regulation, if Stan is running a bait-and-switch scam by making false claims about eligibility for the antineoplastons, you’d think that would violate the same general legal provisions that make that a no-no for appliance and automobile dealers. Forget the Medical Board, I’m wondering why Stan’s not on trial before criminal court. Where are the Texas Attorney General, and/or the prosecutors in Stan’s jurisdiction on this? If they’re shrugging or turning a blind eye, I wonder why that’s the case. What do they gain from inaction, or would they potentially lose by acting?

  12. #12 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    February 24, 2016

    So ol’Stan had a heart attack? Deep down, the primal savage in me is disappointed he didn’t bite the bullet. In an “eye for an eye”-kind of sense he more than deserves to die considering how many people he has actually killed, how many families and loved ones he has robbed.

    But then I am quick to correct myself in that it is wrong to wish Death upon someone – no matter how big of a scumbag they are.

  13. #13 Bob Blaskiewicz
    February 24, 2016

    Todd: The FDA has proved to be perfectly opaque on the matter. A couple of people have tried to piece it together, but still nothing. Basically, the FDA is saying, “Well, he addressed our concerns.” BUT HOLY SHIT ALL THE F-ING CONCERNS, is the right response to that. And I have no confidence in the ability of the Clinic to improve. They’ve said they’d get better in the past and have if nothing else gotten worse. It’s frustrating. We’re not done pushing this issue, though.

  14. #14 Gray Squirrel
    February 24, 2016

    Re. Amethyst @ 12:

    Unless one believes oneself to have supernatural powers, or influence in the decisions of a deity, there is no moral culpability in making wishes.

    It’s only morally wrong to wish death upon someone if there are means by which the wish would be carried out. For example by engaging in stochastic terrorism: wishing out loud on the radio or TV, to whip up a public hate-frenzy that will foreseeably cause an unknown random actor to carry out the deed.

    As rational people, we should steer clear of the magical thinking by which “wishing” is considered to have any operative efficacy other than upon the mind of the wisher. With all manner of fictional media from novels to video games, stable individuals can entertain disturbing notions without the least desire to act upon them; some unstable individuals will be influenced to copy the fictional behavior. Wishes are like that: fictions akin to daydreaming about winning the lottery.

    Moral issues aside, wishing is a waste of time: rational activists don’t sit around wishing, they seek to bring about practical outcomes. In the present case, by urging FDA to revoke the Burz’ (hat tip to Sadmar) means of “experimenting” on hapless cancer patients, and by urging the relevant authorities in Texas to revoke his license to practice medicine.

  15. #15 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    February 24, 2016

    @Bob

    Thanks for the update. The FDA’s response is incredibly frustrating. I mean, the fact that he hasn’t progressed on his dozens of phase 2 trials alone should be sufficient to close those down. No promise of completion or meaningful results means there is no justification for experimenting on the few people who are enrolled. It’s putting them at risk for zero benefit. And that in itself is grounds to shut down the IRB for not doing its job and protecting subjects.

    As someone with IRB experience, this is incredibly frustrating.

  16. #16 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    February 24, 2016

    #14 – Errr… my feeling of it being wrong of me to wish Death on another human being does not stem from my belief that it would have any actual effect of that nature…

    It is just a shitty thing to do, I guess. Yet as I was saying, I wouldn’t exactly be mourning if he had dropped down dead.

  17. #17 Amethyst
    February 24, 2016

    Wow errrr… kinda spooky how my auto-correct in I.E wants to capitalize “death” by default – make it seem as I’m talking specifically about the Grim Reaper himself!

  18. #18 Science Mom
    http://justthevax.blogspot.com/
    February 24, 2016

    Even if Count Scamula drops dead or the TMB somehow manages to prevent him from practising medicine, isn’t his son Greg poised to carry on the family business?

  19. #19 Gray Squirrel
    February 24, 2016

    Amythist@ 17:

    The capital D made it appear that you were endorsing some kind of “wishing makes it so” woo. That’s what prompted me to post my comment.

    The arguable purpose of AutoCorrect is to make sure brand names are spelled right, for purposes of making it easier to click the Buy button. Along the way it does to written conversation what crappy cellphone audio does to spoken conversation, as you see.

    Take control and turn it off. Humans can think and write for ourselves without some obnoxious AI golem trying to edit our every word.

  20. #20 Denice Walter
    February 24, 2016

    @ Science Mom:

    My thoughts exactly.

  21. #21 Lawrence
    February 24, 2016

    As one of those people who has tried to piece things together, with the people I know at the FDA, it appears that the general consensus is:

    1) They know his treatments are BS
    2) They lost badly when they went after him the first time
    3) They are guaranteed to lose the PR fight
    4) The number of “patients” he treats is relatively low, therefore, from a resources perspective, it doesn’t warrant the resources, pain & agony, etc. to shut him down.

    I hate that this appears to be the consensus, but it does explain their relatively lack of activity.

  22. #22 DLC
    February 25, 2016

    Please, TX board, please. Pull Burzynski’s license. Please.

    Oh, and, if you have been diagnosed with any potentially dangerous illness such as cancer, please. — pretty please with a cherry on it — please research the efficacy of any proposed treatment before committing to it. Chemotherapy has a carefully vetted and highly proven track record ; Burzynski NeoPee doesn’t . Homeopathy doesn’t. Herbal nostroms do not.

  23. #23 Gray Squirrel
    February 25, 2016

    Re. Lawrence @ 21:

    That sounds highly plausible. Next step: try the IRS. Unless The Burz has serious accountants and tax lawyers ensuring that his filings are perfect, there is bound to be _something_ amiss.

    What’s needed is a couple of hours of consultation with a forensic accountant, to find out what The Burz’ likely tax filing vulnerabilities are, in light of what is already known about the way he does business. This should lead to some testable predictions, e.g. “If Burz is fiddling his taxes using method X, then we should observe that he does Y and Z.” Next, keep an eagle eye out for signs of Y and Z, and upon observing them, report him to the IRS on suspicion that he is doing X.

    One likely place to start: W2 vs. 1099: employees vs. “independent contractors.” Many companies are in potentially hot water with this item, it is very common. Another possibility is with regard to product inventories and “use tax” liabilities (if you sell Q, you have to charge sales tax; if you use Q while performing service R, you have to pay use tax on your usage of Q), though sales & use tax is a state issue rather than federal.

    Remember, many a badguy who managed to avoid arrest for his actual crimes, has been taken down for his tax irregularities.

  24. #24 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    February 25, 2016

    Amethyst:

    #14 – Errr… my feeling of it being wrong of me to wish Death on another human being does not stem from my belief that it would have any actual effect of that nature…

    Suddenly, I am picturing Burzynski being visited by a seven foot tall skeleton wearing a robe of infinite blackness, with two blue lights for eyes, weilding a scythe, and riding a white horse named Binky.

    EXCUSE ME, MR BURZYNSKI. IT SEEMS SOME PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET WISH ME TO MEET YOU. WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN TEA AND BISCUITS? DON’T TRY THE SAUSAGES.

    Gray Squirrel:

    Take control and turn it off. Humans can think and write for ourselves without some obnoxious AI golem trying to edit our every word.

    Hah! I’ve turned it off in three different places on my phone, and it STILL wants to autocorrect. Somewhere, there is still a setting hiding SOMEWHERE that thinks it knows what I mean.

    Not as bad as Spell Check in Word, which attempts to automatically detect language and load the appropriate dictionary, and which is sophisticated enough to notice when language changes within the same document. Unfortunately, if you have a lot of acryonyms or code snippets it does a really terrible job. For some reason, the acronym table in my Version Description Documents is usually detected as French, while some of the build procedures are declared to be alternately Nynorsk and Norsk Bokmal.

  25. #25 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    February 26, 2016

    @#24

    LOL – If that happens, I hope it has a Ebenezer Scrooge-like effect on him and he turns his life around.

  26. #26 Redblues
    New England
    February 28, 2016

    Several things jump out at me (and raise my blood pressure) every time I read about that dirtbag:
    The FDA’s job is precisely to shut down dangerous quackery. If they lack the resources to do so we should all be howling and demanding adequate funding and legal power for them to do their job. No government agency should be in the position of having “concerns” which a high-powered lawyer can explain and threaten away, to the ongoing detriment of the patients they are supposed to protect. The FDA should have the power to close the clinic and prevent it from opening until every single documented violation has been corrected. Allowing it to remain open while he continues his human experiments is despicable and dangerous. And the clinic has the body count to prove it.

    The FDA’s continued failure to shut him down for fraud is what gives his “clinic” an aura of respectability that it should not have. I hold them responsible.

    Medical licensing should be federal, not state by state. One would think that science standards should be uniform, not open to the interpretation of individual states with political agendas. Clearly, the state of Texas is not qualified to regulate the practice of medicine, or they would have shut down the clinic decades ago.

    Where does he go for medical treatment? Does he rely on “mavericks” for his cardiac issues, or does he follow standard accepted medical treatments in real hospitals? He should be willing to run the same risks with his own health that he blithely inflicts upon his patients. Yes, I know that cardiac issues are not the same as cancer, but science is science. If oncology patients can be experimented upon at their own expense and without informed consent, he should be equally confident in dismissing standard practices for his own health, and on his own dime, just like his own patients.

  27. #27 Ronnie
    Nowhere & everywhere
    March 4, 2016

    Burzynski charges outrageous amounts to administer unproven cancer medication?
    How long will I have to wait for you to mention something about the fact that your acceped cancer treatment is not much different?
    Give us your top 10 proven cancer treatments & their prices.
    Just because you can’t prove something doesn’t mean you can discount it either.
    Don’t a lot of Burzynski’s patients go to him after they have gone down the path of your accepted cancer treatments ?
    After chemo & radiation treatment where most people get left with an immune system unable to function,it’s no surprise Burzynski can’t perform miracles on everyone.
    I’m sure your accepted cancer treatments have left them to ill to fight off their cancer.
    Please do a price comparison on Burzynski’s cancer treatment & your accepted cancer treatment

    You & your arrogant loyal followers haven’t made one contribution to the advancement of cancer treatment
    You just push drugs that don’t work for big companies that only care about money.
    That’s a fact.
    Your scum.

  28. #28 MI Dawn
    March 4, 2016

    @Ronnie:
    1. No reputable institution charges for clinical trials. Burzynski charges thousands of dollars and forces people to buy chemotherapy (yes, that’s what he’s giving) from his pharmacy for extreme markups.
    2. Reputable institutions have treatments covered by health insurance. Show me ANY insurance in the world that covers Burzynski. While I’m not saying insurance covers everything, it does cover (if you have it) some or most of the costs.
    3. You came here with the assertation. You prove, medication for medication, that accepted cancer treatments cost more than Burzynski charges.

    (By the way…I doubt you meant to sign off “your scum” although maybe you did. It’s a curious thing to call yourself. If, however, you meant to call Orac scum, the phrase would be “you’re scum”)

    However, I doubt you’ll be back; I’m sure you’re just a drive-by troll.

  29. #29 Opus
    just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    March 4, 2016

    Ronnie:
    In case you drop back by. . .
    My wife has multiple myeloma, stage 3. Her chemotherapy includes Velcade, dexamethasone and thalidomide. The cost of each:
    Velcade: $9,000 per month
    Dexamethasone: $10 per month
    Thalidomide: $6,000 per month

    Our cost, after our out-of-pocket limit is reached*:
    Velcade: $60 per month
    Dexamethasone: $0.04 per dose!
    Thalidomide: $72 per month

    Glad I could help!!

    *Early January, best I can tell.

  30. #30 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    March 4, 2016

    @Ronnie

    Believe it or not, there are actually rules about charging for experimental drugs in clinical trials. For the most part, it isn’t allowed. Only under certain situations is it acceptable. You can read more in this post.

    Burzynski has gotten around this little legal requirement by calling it a “case management fee”, rather than a charge for the drug.

    Opus, perhaps you could tell us, does your wife’s doctor charge a case management fee of tens of thousands of dollars?

  31. #31 Opus
    Just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    March 4, 2016

    Todd W:

    Oddly enough, no her oncologist doesn’t a massive case management fee. We get charged for labs & drug administration (1 time per visit), physician consultation, (one every other chemo cycle) and PA consultation ( every other chemo cycle). Once she meets the out-of-pocket max for the year there’s no charge.

  32. #32 Ronnie
    March 5, 2016

    Ok, if you’re lucky enough to be covered by health insurance,and you’re expenses are reduced for chemo treatment,which if you’re being honest,don’t do a whole lot for people in most cases,doesn’t mean somebody isn’t paying for it.As pharma co’s & Insurance co’s each make big profits,obviously everybody else with insurance share the costs.
    But with premiums rising in cost every year,because these mega corps want more & more profits,a lot of people are being squeezed out from being able to afford insurance.
    Obviously I’m no doctor & wouldn’t know the first thing about clinical trials,research & how a treatment for cancer is decided upon.
    But it seems to me,all the cancer councils of the world & all the hospital research that’s been done,haven’t made much of an impact on coming close to a cure.
    I understand clinical trials need to be extensive & thorough,that they are extremely expensive & take years to come to a conclusion,I have also read a study that says there are ways to manipulate the outcome of these trials.When pharma co’s are paying millions for these trials that need absolute scientific proof they have a benefit as a treatment,how is it possible that pharma co’s have been fined for selling drugs that don’t work,and have killed people?
    I understand most of you on here don’t like what people like Burzynski do,mainly because of the lack of “proven” clinical trial findings,fair enough,but haven’t pharma co’s tried buying his patents ?set him up to fail in clinical trials? or via govt, made it so any patient he can treat is so sick from cancer & the required chemo & radiation that he can’t do much.
    I would just like to read something on here about an accepted treatment from the main players in this lucrative business of manufacturing & selling drugs (for any illness or disease)
    that you know don’t really work.Surely you know of something that doesn’t or didn’t work ?
    If a pharma co is willing to manipulate clinical trials once for profit,surely it’s possible they could do it again,considering that the fines they get for breaches don’t come close to the profit they made on selling the drug.
    I don’t know if you people,in all your different fields of expertise, realise how arrogant you come across when you shoot down so called quacks
    For educated professionals,that have to admit there is so much in this world we don’t know & probably never will,it must be so damn frustrating blindly believing in the religion of science & it being the only trusted source of knowledge.
    I mean how many times have you had a “scientific proof”
    That turned out to be in fact,WRONG.
    Someone be big enough to admit you believed in a well held scientific belief that turned out to be wrong.

    Lastly,just because your beloved “science” can’t prove something,because it,or human beings,aren’t capable,keep an open mind to everything.
    A lot of smart people cannot admit they are wrong about a belief they have ,or something they have been taught.
    That’s ego.
    No room in science for ego

  33. #33 Opus
    Just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    March 5, 2016

    Ronnie:
    There’s a lot to address in your response, but at least you came back by – so many times the true believers in woo drive by, drop a coprolite, and never come back.

    First, a little background. I am not a doctor but I have much more experience with cancer than I ever wanted. My brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2014 and my wife was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last July.

    I’d like to address several of your statements, beginning with ”chemo treatment,which you’re being honest, don’t do a whole lot for people in most cases”

    This statement is really REALLY wrong. My wife’s oncologist told us that had she been diagnosed with multiple myeloma ten years ago there was no treatment available. Nothing. Now, thanks to the researchers and drug companies that you so despise, there are multiple treatment regimens available. In my wife’s case treatment options are severely restricted by kidney failure, caused by the myeloma. Many of the standard myeloma treatments are ruled out by her renal failure, but still there is a standard protocol which is working well. With any luck she will move to a maintenance chemotherapy schedule in the near future. And when this particular regimen stops working, as it inevitably will, there are two new treatments, both released in the last six months, which are appropriate for myeloma patients with renal failure. Both of these are, once again, due to the hard work of the researchers and drug companies that you despise.

    But it seems to me,all the cancer councils of the world & all the hospital research that’s been done,haven’t made much of an impact on coming close to a cure.”

    I think you have missed a couple of major points here. First, there is no such thing as ‘a cure for cancer.’ There are hundreds of types of cancer; it’s not one disease. Second, you are making an arbitrary distinction between cancer which can be cured vs cancer which cannot be cured. It’s not that simple; there are lots of shade of grey between ‘incurable’ and ‘curable.’ Multiple myeloma is incurable. But it is treatable, right now, and the treatment options continue to expand. With any luck, in the next few years myeloma will become a chronic disease, incurable but treatable, which doesn’t significantly shorten the lifespan of those who are diagnosed with it. A cure would be nice, but we can live without one!

    Take a look at this graph, showing five-year survival rates for pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and myeloma.
    http://seer.cancer.gov/faststats/selections.php?run=runit&output=1&data=4&statistic=6&year=201507&race=1&sex=1&age=1&series=cancer&cancer=21;40;89
    Do you really think that no progress is being achieved??

    Finally, let’s look at a simple comparison over time:
    – Ten years ago, in 2006, Stanislaw Burzynski was doing stage two clinical trials.
    – In 2006 myeloma researchers were doing stage two clinical trials.
    – Ten years later, right now, Stanislaw Burzynski is still doing stage two clinical trials.
    Over the same ten-year period a number of treatments for myeloma have moved through trials into production and survival rates are sky-rocketing
    Now, let’s assume that the world is perfect, and both Dr Burzynski and myeloma researchers get their wishes granted. What would the world look like?
    Myeloma would be relegated to the ranks of treatable, chronic conditions. And Dr Burzynski? He would still be doing stage two clinical trials, raking in those ‘management fees.’

  34. #34 Ronnie
    March 5, 2016

    Hi Opus,hope your loved ones are doing well.
    That 5 year survival rate for those particular cancers,if I’m not mistaken,can simply be improved by early detection.
    And when I stated research hasn’t come close to a cure for cancer,you say there isn’t a cure for cancer.
    Don’t you mean, there isn’t a cure yet ?

    I know cancer is a lot of different things,and some can be masked & kept at bay for some time on chemo,but there is a lot of cancer that it doesn’t do a whole lot for.FACT.
    You might be happy masking a particular cancer & not finding the cause,but millions of people don’t agree

    And on the topic of Burzynski,why won’t insurance companies pay for his treatment?
    If patients have health insurance,what is it to the insurance companies where they send a cheque for treatment?
    People have the right to seek treatment from anyone they wish.
    If your accepted doctor tells you to go home & prepare to die,as they can’t help you anymore,would you stand in the way of that person seeking treatment from someone like Burzynski?

    And in a perfect world,there isn’t any need for wishes.

  35. #35 Ronnie
    March 5, 2016

    ATTN MI Dawn
    You’re (happy)statement that no reputable institution charges for clinical trials I believe is wrong.
    If these trials cost millions of dollars,don’t these pharma co’s just get that money back when they put a product on the market ?
    Just because the cost of trials comes out of their account to begin with, doesn’t mean they don’t recuperate that,and then some,when pricing products.

    Tell me,if a person has insurance,what business is it of the insurance company where they send a cheque ?

    Humans a free to seek any treatment they effing like.

  36. #36 Ronnie
    March 5, 2016

    Just had a quick look at a history of pharmaceutical companies getting caught doing the wrong thing.
    Anybody visit this blog care to admit that yes,they are,or have in the past,been paid by a pharma company that has ever been caught doing the wrong thing?
    Do you believe if a pharma company deliberately lies & deceives patients about the drugs they’re selling,that some people at the company should be held more accountable?
    Or do you believe fines that they’re profits easily cover is sufficient punishment?

    What about the relationship between the FDA & Pharma co’s ?
    Isn’t there something seriously wrong when FDA executives end up working at a pharma co ?
    Give me some balance in you’re blogs ORAC,we all know how you feel about Burzynski,now give us you’re thoughts on some of the wrongdoings of pharma co’s,the ones we know about, better yet,the ones you know about.

    It’s called SCIENCEBLOGS right?
    But all you talk about is all the things that you don’t class as science.

  37. #37 Opus
    just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    March 5, 2016

    Ronnie:
    You asked” If patients have health insurance,what is it to the insurance companies where they send a cheque for treatment?”

    The answer is very simple: Just as soon as Dr Burzynski can prove that he is providing treatment, as opposed to “treatment*” insurance companies will start reimbursing him.

    Why should my insurance company spend my money on his quackery? Remember, every penny that my insurance company receives comes from subscribers like me. Every dollar wasted on quacks is a dollar less for proven treatments.

    * “Treatment,” in Dr B’s world, means that the reduction in the patient’s bank account is approximately equal to the growth in Dr B’s bank account.

  38. #38 Chris Preston
    March 5, 2016

    The whole point of clinical trials is that the treatments are experimental. It is not known yet whether they will work or how effective they can be.

    Therefore, patients should not have to pay for them. Patients who enroll in clinical trials are putting their health (in some cases their life) on the line to produce data that will help the rest of us.

    Once a treatment is proved to be effective, patients have the ability to assess whether the benefits are worth the cost (and side effects).

    Burzynski is preying on desperately ill people who are almost all going to die and getting them to pay large amounts of money for completely unproven treatments. His success rate in treatment seems to be indistinguishable from nil. He also lies to his patients about his treatments working.

    Burzynski no doubts knows this, which makes his treatments completely unethical.

  39. #39 Chris Preston
    March 5, 2016

    Buggeration. Forgot to close the blockquote.

  40. #40 Opus
    Just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    March 5, 2016

    Ronnie:

    I realized that I may have assumed that you know more about the American medical/insurance system than you actually do. A couple of questions:

    Do you realize that insurance companies are not required to reimburse any treatment requested by a patient?

    For instance, if my wife found a treatment that involved swallowing radioactive tapeworms while leeches are applied to her chakras, do you know that there is no guarantee that she would be reimbursed?

    Thanks in advance!

  41. #41 herr doktor bimler
    March 5, 2016

    Give me some balance in you’re blogs ORAC,we all know how you feel about Burzynski,now give us you’re thoughts on some of the wrongdoings of pharma co’s,the ones we know about, better yet,the ones you know about.

    Dude, the blog has a search option in the top right corner of the page.

  42. #42 Lighthorse
    March 6, 2016

    @Ronnie #36: “What about the relationship between the FDA & Pharma co’s ? Isn’t there something seriously wrong when FDA executives end up working at a pharma co?”

    You mean like when an FDA official such as Daniel Fabricant ends up working for the dietary supplement industry (Natural Products Association) after previously working for the same organization? If you don’t believe it, check his executive profile at Bloomberg dot com.

    There are so many examples of Big Pharma owning or controlling a major share in dietary supplement companies that the lines have blurred. To name a handful: Pfizer bought Emergen-C; Proctor & Gamble, partners with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, bought New Chapter, a maker of mostly herbal supplements. Reckitt Benckiser bought Schiff Nutritional. Wyeth makes Centrum and a number of other supplements. Bayer makes One A Day supplements. GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, and Unilever, are among other big pharmaceutical firms that also manufacture or sell dietary supplements. In Europe, Sandoz makes an extract of passionflower; not an isolated constituent of the plant.

  43. #43 Daniel Corcos
    France
    March 6, 2016

    @ Ronnie and Opus
    1) Of the three cancer types in the SEER curves, only colon cancer 5-year survival can be related to earlier detection.
    2) The increased 5-year survival of myeloma patients preceded approval of bortezomib by FDA. It is likely that better management of known therapies resulted in this improvement.
    It is sadly true that the cost of clinical trials is such that only new profitable drugs can be evaluated, while it is crucial to search for better strategies.

  44. #44 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 6, 2016

    Ronnie –
    My sister had Synovial Sarcoma in her foot 25 or so years ago, and she is still alive. Early detection had nothing to do with it, as it is a rare cancer, and she had some real MDs tell her it was nothing to worry about. She and I don’t blame them, they were expecting horses, not zebras.

    But one doctor said ‘let’s look closer’ and after sending tissue samples across the country, zebras were found. One surgery later, she was cured, and the cancer was removed, and has not returned.

    To this day, she is enjoying her retired life spoiling her grandchildren.

    Real science, and real medicine, saved her. A lot of quack’s patients die too soon and in pain. I hope that you never have cancer. But if you do, please go to see Stan.

  45. #45 Allo V Psycho
    March 6, 2016

    Dear Ronnie,
    I’m in the UK. Very substantial amounts of cancer research are funded by either Government (through the Medical Research Council) and through charities. Cancer treatment (like all medical treatment) is free at the point of care, although of course you can pay for it privately if you want. Charities, Government, medical practitioners and patients all have strong vested financial interests in curing cancer. Yet the evidence based protocols for treating cancer are very much the same as those in the U.S. To me, this seems to confirm that there is not a massive financial conspiracy to prevent cancer cures from becoming public. What’s your view?
    Of course, I fully agree that big pharmaceutical companies, and big alternative medicine companies, act in their own financial interest. This is called ‘capitalism’, and many Americans seem quite keen on it.

  46. #46 Dangerous Bacon
    March 6, 2016

    Ronnie: “I don’t know if you people,in all your different fields of expertise, realise how arrogant you come across when you shoot down so called quacks”
    Ronnie: “Anybody visit this blog care to admit that yes,they are,or have in the past,been paid by a pharma company that has ever been caught doing the wrong thing?”

    Ronnie, do you any idea how offensive and foolish you sound when trying to tar posters here with shill accusations?

    No one here has insinuated that you’re on the payroll of Burzynski or supplement companies. Your claims can be readily countered without resorting to personal attacks.

  47. #47 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 6, 2016

    Anybody visit this blog care to admit that yes,they are,or have in the past,been paid by a pharma company that has ever been caught doing the wrong thing?

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, paid by a pharma company.

  48. #48 Vicki
    March 6, 2016

    Claiming that because there aren’t cures for all cancers, there is “no cure for cancer” is technically true, but it’s like claiming that because there aren’t cures for all cancers, there is “no cure for disease.” There is no general cure for disease, but there are cures for quite a few diseases, including some cancers.

  49. #49 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 6, 2016

    Someone be big enough to admit you believed in a well held scientific belief that turned out to be wrong.

    Back in High School I believed in the Rutherford model of the atom. I learned better, but never felt the concept of Trigonoides and Tetragonoides had any validity.

    Now, where is the evidence that Burzynski’s treatments are more effective than current standard of care for various cancers?

  50. #50 Daniel Corcos
    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Corcos2/
    March 6, 2016

    @ Allo V Psycho
    There is no conspiracy to prevent cancer cures from becoming public, but you cannot make all the preclinical studies and the big clinical trials without expectation of financial return. This is the main limitation.

  51. #51 MI Dawn
    March 6, 2016

    Hi, Ronnie. I am not now, nor have I ever in my life been paid by ANY pharmaceutical company. So quit with the “pharma shill” talk.

    I do work for health insurance. Because we 1) care about our members’ health and 2) care about our members’ money, we don’t pay for investigational or experimental services. If Burzynski ever finished his clinical trials over the past 30 years, and actually proved his treatment works, it would be paid for. Not paying for Burzynski is like not paying for you to get your chakras aligned. Not proven treatment. Get proof it works, we’ll pay. Honest. In the 15 years I’ve been there, I can name several treatments that were investigational when I started which now are standard of care and we pay for them. And yes, they cost a lot of money in some instances. But they have been proven to work . That’s the piece missing: PROOF.

  52. #52 herr doktor bimler
    March 6, 2016

    And yes, they cost a lot of money in some instances. But they have been proven to work .

    Case in point: Jimmy Carter has now outlived inoperable cancer, and remains on track for outliving the guinea worm.

  53. #53 LW
    March 6, 2016

    – Ten years ago, in 2006, Stanislaw Burzynski was doing stage two clinical trials.
    – In 2006 myeloma researchers were doing stage two clinical trials.
    – Ten years later, right now, Stanislaw Burzynski is still doing stage two clinical trials.

    He’s not just “still doing stage two clinical trials.” As I understand it, he’s still doing the same stage two clinical trials.

  54. #54 Opus
    just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    March 6, 2016

    LW @ #53:

    Is it safe to say that Stanislaw Burzynski is still inventing a triangular wheel??

    I am not, nor have I ever been, paid by a pharmaceutical company, drug company or any other variant thereof for commenting, recommending or disparaging any product.

  55. #55 TBruce
    March 6, 2016

    Ronnie:
    As a pathologist, I don’t prescribe any meds, therefore the Big Pharmboiz have no interest in buying me BMWs or flying me to Maui. I did snag a free pen or two when I went to an infectious disease conference. As a result, all of my opinions are tainted forever.

  56. #56 Ronnie
    March 7, 2016

    Attn MI DAWN
    You work for an insurance co & they care about they’re members ?
    But only the healthy non claiming members,hey MI DAWN

  57. #57 Ronnie
    March 7, 2016

    ATTN JOHNNY
    hope you’re sister Is ok now,if she is suffering any lingering foot pain I have some of MERCK’s VIOXX I could send her.
    Maybe even her grandkids could benefit from some ,if they’re ever in any kind of pain.
    What do you reckon ?

    Real science,Real medication?

    Imagine you’re sister was in pain in the past and died from taking a “real medication” as you call it,then dropped dead,I don’t think then you would have the same totally trusting attitude,towards you’re big pharma crims.

    VIOXX
    clinical trial – tick

    Ok,let’s discuss a different clinically approved drug,every day,then talk about the people that died from that clinically approved drug & their family members who suffer a grief to this day because of
    1) lying,deceiving pharma co’s
    2)Complicit,unethical,spineless,first do no harm doctors.

    Shall we ?

    Didn’t think so

  58. #58 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 7, 2016

    Ronnie – give us one example where Big Pharma greed killed someone with a clinically tested and approved drug.

    Just one.

    And I don’t mean when the person died because of the underlying disease (so no, you can’t bring up chemotherapy for example), nor someone who OD on (for example) pain killers as means of suicide.

  59. #59 Daniel Corcos
    France
    March 7, 2016
  60. #60 Helianthus
    France
    March 7, 2016

    @ Amethyst

    give us one example where Big Pharma greed killed someone with a clinically tested and approved drug.

    Ronnie already gave us one: Vioxx.
    Granted, it was more the commercial branch of Merck than the scientific one which screwed up by downplaying side-effects concerns, out of zeal to sell the drug. But that fit.

    There is also the old infamous Thalidomide. Thanks to a FDA suspicious woman, Frances Kelsey, it was not approved in the US.
    But it was in Europe, where it ruined a few lives. And the poor Kelsey certainly took a lot of flak for daring to stand between the pharma company and the American market. So “approved”, “greed” and “hurt patients” would fit this story, too.

    Then there is Daniel Corcos’ example, the Mediator. Very infamous in France.

  61. #61 Ronnie
    March 7, 2016

    The thing is,Big pharma co’s have only one objective,maximum profits.
    We know this,therefore they are predictable in everything they do.
    Doctors & scientific researchers I thought had no such aspirations.
    I truly thought their principles & ethics were non negotiable.
    That they,if there is such a thing,were our real heroes.
    Not seeking fame or fortune,just quietly going about the business of saving lives.
    I’m sure there are some that are doing just that,but I know there are others that just can’t get enough of that big pharma teet.
    Maybe I was naive in thinking most doctors are a special kind of person who you really could trust with your life,
    Maybe everybody does have a price.

  62. #62 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 7, 2016

    Funny, in all those examples I am seeing all the safeguards put in place actively working as they should and stepping in to stop sales/distribution of the drug. Kelsey was a goddamn hero..
    Which is the result I already knew I was going to get. Tell me Ronnie – why hasn’t Big Pharma overlords used it’s Iluminati-like influence and power to stop the FDA and such to stop interfering with their nefarious plans of selling death?

    “The thing is,Big pharma co’s have only one objective,maximum profits.”

    And you should be damn glad they have that goal. Very little research for the cure of cancer, AIDS/HIV and other nasty stuff would get funded were it not for the enormous profits such cures would reap.

    That you are naive enough to believe that “real scientists” work solely for the greater good at no cost is not a valid argument against anything.

  63. #63 Helianthus
    March 7, 2016

    @ Ronnie

    Not seeking fame or fortune

    Doctors & scientific researchers are human beings like anyone else around you. Don’t make gods out of them, but don’t deny them some right to seek personal achievements.

    Academic researchers’ career is based on fame, obtained through publishing their findings. The good thing is, it cuts both way in regard to outside temptations: showing that something is harmful will gather as much fame as using this something to cure some disease. Maybe more, even.
    Researchers are looking for recognition. It’s how good research is being propagated and improved upon. It’s part of the job.

    And like with anything, among all of us, some are incompetents and some are cheaters.

    Maybe everybody does have a price.

    Don’t ascribe to malice that could be just lazy wishful thinking.
    When we think we have a solution to some problem, it’s very easy to disregard potential issues with this solution. That’s what make players of games of chance throwing good money after bad money.

    It’s actually a worse situation than really having corrupted people: everybody on both sides think they are the side being honest.
    The true is, everybody is dishonest. Simply, they are not on the same side.

  64. #64 Helianthus
    March 7, 2016

    @ Amethyst

    Kelsey was a goddamn hero..

    Yes.
    But which part of “approved in Europe” did you not understand?

  65. #65 Renate
    March 7, 2016

    @ Ronnie
    I think Big Quack, including dr. Burzynski, is far more greedy than Big Pharma.
    Your dr. Burzynski is selling unaproved drugs, that don’t help, for big prices and the same goes for all other cancer-quacks and if the patient isn’t cured it is only the fault of the patient, but never of the quack method.

  66. #66 Helianthus
    March 7, 2016

    @ Renate

    If there was any doubt, I will definitively put Dr Burzynski in the “cheater” category I mentioned above. 40 years and counting, and not a single valid scientific article to his name on his “cures”.
    Ditto as an example of a doctor into money/fame-hunting.

  67. #67 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 7, 2016

    Eh. Thalidomide was case that thrived not so much on greed and unethical behavior as it was a mistake that happened due to the scientific limitations/ignorance of the time (it was not tested for side-effects on the unborn because it was not believed that drugs would pass the placental barrier). It was only tested and approved for the mother and from what I can tell it did no harm to her.

    However, that is not to say that it wasn’t challenged in Europe at the time: both a German and Austrian scientist at the time did publish theories about it. Nor did the drug get fully endorsed in all of Europe; several countries heavily restricted it or didn’t approve it at all.

    But yes, it was technically a clinically approved (by the shitty standards of the time) drug that wrecked havoc – I’ll grant you that.

  68. #68 Renate
    March 7, 2016

    @ Helianthus

    I think that is exactly what I said.

  69. #69 Helianthus
    March 7, 2016

    @ Renate

    My apologies, I was not criticizing your post.

    I go back at lurking.

  70. #70 Daniel Corcos
    March 7, 2016

    @ amethyst
    There is nothing that can be said in defence of Benfluorex. They cheated about the mode of action (they did not say it was an anorectic agent) and the lethal side effects could have been predicted from their previous drug, fenfluramine.

  71. #71 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 7, 2016

    Why do you assume I would defend it..? I am curious however – do we really know it was malice on the part of the ones who made/sold it,or negligence on their part or some sort of French regulatory organ?

    I’d say some blame can be at whatever the French equivalent of the FDA is called. From what I can tell, the drug has been around since the ’70s – which is terrifying to say the least.

  72. #72 Daniel Corcos
    France
    March 7, 2016

    @ Amethyst
    No, I did not assume that you would defend it. What I meant was that it was a much stronger case of deliberate misinformation than the other examples. First, it was sold as antidiabetic agent, but the mode of action was as an anorectic agent, for which it should not have been authorized in this indication. Second, similar pathologies were observed with a related molecule which had to be withdrawn. Although it had no obvious therapeutic interest, the drug was covered by the national insurance system. This means political connections and conflict of interests.

  73. #73 Peter Dugdale
    homeofhomeopathy
    March 7, 2016

    Ronnie @57
    Even the Vioxx story is not as black-and-white as media accounts make it out to be. Every drug which is pharmacologically active usually has side-effects, and it’s almost always a matter of balancing risks against benefits. Drugs very similar to vioxx are legally prescribed in Europe : in fact a few years ago I was prescribed one (arcoxia) for disabling back pain. Reading the list of potential side-effects on the leaflet in the drug box made my hair stand on end, but …. the drug did the trick, after five months of other ineffective treatments. Once I was fine again, the doc. was quick to tell me to stop taking the drug.
    Reading the wiki on Vioxx, I get the impression that if Merck hadn’t been so shifty about the data on it from the beginning, it might still be on the market under that name.

    Apart from having taken the drug, I have no links with the manufacturer.

  74. #74 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 7, 2016

    Ronnie,

    If you really want to discuss badly done science to promote a commercial end, you might want to check out http://www.badscience.net/.

    Before you go, though, you wrote above

    Please do a price comparison on Burzynski’s cancer treatment & your accepted cancer treatment

    Before anyone does that, don’t you think it would be useful to know the success rates of both? The success rates (as measured by survival) for conventional cancer treatments are published. Where are Burzynski’s?

  75. #75 shay simmons
    March 7, 2016

    Please do a price comparison on Burzynski’s cancer treatment & your accepted cancer treatment

    That’s one of the arguments I frequently see for homeopathy. News flash: something that is cheap but has never been proved to work, is no bargain.

  76. #76 Opus
    Just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    March 7, 2016

    shay simmons @ #75:

    I believe your comment is off-topic. The issue at hand is a treatment that is expensive and doesn’t work.

    (snark off)

  77. #77 shay simmons
    March 7, 2016

    You mean Burzynski isn’t treating people out of the goodness of his heart? I’m shocked, I tell you. Shocked.

  78. #78 Ronnie
    March 8, 2016

    ATTN AMETHYST #62
    you mentioned that I should be glad big pharma co’s are only interested in maximum profits,because as you said,
    “Very little research for these cures would be funded if it wasn’t for the enormous profits a CURE would reap.

    Um…..Isn’t big pharma already making enormous profits ?
    I don’t think you understand what you have written,you’re admitting big pharma will not fund a research that could CURE a cancer,AIDS/HIV or other nasty,unless they can profit ENORMOUSLY.
    So if a natural element was found to show unbelievable promise as a CURE for cancer that couldn’t be patented,
    You believe that big pharma wouldn’t fund trials,because of no chance of those ENORMOUS profits.
    I totally agree.

    CURE…. PROFIT.
    When I say these two words out loud together
    I feel sick.

    Hey Amethyst,I can’t say that I would be glad a child suffering a cancer,that was soon going to kill them,only because that child’s family couldn’t afford the newly discovered CURE that,as you say,will be sold for ENORMOUS profits.

    Will you be glad ?

    Cure,profit,then what for big pharma ?
    After ending all disease & illness forever,& nobody having to buy their drugs ever again,maybe they will just take a bow & never be heard of again.

    Hey Amethyst,just wondering,if you worked for a pharma co that discovered a cure for a cancer & were responsible for coming up with a price charged to each patient,how ENORMOUS a fee could be charged ?

    You are one disgusting thing.
    I hope you can afford the fee if you get cancer,if not,don’t pack a lot of clothes when you leave here,because where your headed gets extremely hot.

  79. #79 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 8, 2016

    I’m just going to ignore all the personal attacks and be the bigger Gem.

    That being said, you need to wake up. As I said before, you live in some kind of fantasy where “real scientists” only work for the betterment of mankind, free of charge. The fact of the matter is that both scientist and medical doctor is a job to pay one’s bills.

    It sure would be nice if we lived in the StarTrek universe where currency and economics have long since been abolished and everyone just works to better themselves and their professional field of choice, but we don’t.

    “So if a natural element was found to show unbelievable promise as a CURE for cancer that couldn’t be patented.”

    Natural elements can be patented. You realize that a lot of common medicine is derived from “natural elements” such as plants? Asprin is derived from willow tree bark, for example. If a certain plant was shown to contain the cure for cancer, you can bet your sweet ass on the discoverer being able to patent it!

    “I don’t think you understand what you have written,you’re admitting big pharma will not fund a research that could CURE a cancer,AIDS/HIV or other nasty,unless they can profit ENORMOUSLY.”
    “Big Pharma” is not a charity. Again with your delusion that all science should be done on a purely altruistic, non-profit basis… That being said, cancer and AIDS/HIV research is going on in full swing so obviously “Big Pharma” are quite confident in the profits of a cure. Plus there are non-“Big Pharma” researchers working on it.

    “Hey Amethyst,I can’t say that I would be glad a child suffering a cancer,that was soon going to kill them,only because that child’s family couldn’t afford the newly discovered CURE that,as you say,will be sold for ENORMOUS profits.”

    I can only assume you are speaking from an American perspective, because in the glorious socialist state/hellhole where I live, that doesn’t happen. That is a problem with America’s healtcare and insurance system.

    “Hey Amethyst,just wondering,if you worked for a pharma co that discovered a cure for a cancer & were responsible for coming up with a price charged to each patient,how ENORMOUS a fee could be charged ?”

    See my previous point.

    “I hope you can afford the fee if you get cancer,if not,don’t pack a lot of clothes when you leave here,because where your headed gets extremely hot.”

    I got good medical insurance, thank you very much. And even if I hadn’t, again I live in socialist hell so I wouldn’t have to pay a lot out of my own pockets.

    Oh and there is no God nor Hell. So you’ll forgive me for not giving a rat’s ass about your threat of eternal hellfire. 🙂

  80. #80 Lawrence
    March 8, 2016

    Ronnie ignores the fact, that regardless of who does it (government, educational or corporate), research into new drug development is extremely expensive and time-consuming.

    And the old “natural” fallacy – as any natural cure or substance would still need to be researched, refined and replicated for any real treatment….

    Not to mention that it would still go through the years of clinical trials to ensure both safety and efficacy. These organizations are also still made up of people, people who’s families probably experience Cancer, AIDS, etc – so the thought that they would be part of any “cover-up” is just ludicrous.

    I love it when the quacks try to sound logical, when they are anything but.

  81. #81 novalox
    March 8, 2016

    @ronnie

    You do know using the pharmashill gambit shows just how lacking your so called “argument” really is.

    And while we are at it, how can we tell that you are not a shill for burzynski?

  82. #82 Ronnie the duck
    March 9, 2016

    Hey Lawrence ya dropshort,why would a fruit or a vegetable, or even if it was a fish that was recently discovered,as having unbelievable healing powers, why would any of these tings need to be replicated ?
    You can’t replicate Mother nature

    Just answer these question

    How much do you think a pharma company if they had it patented, would charge for a CURE of any type of cancer ?
    You pick one & give me a price.
    Then obviously the floodgates open & everything is cured
    No more disease or illness.
    Just imagine it were possible,what kind of price tags would your big pharma co’s be putting on the average cure

    If you honestly think CURES are the objective,it’s you that is illogical.
    Why the hell would they want no more repeat business ?

    And you ask if people in the industry would be a part of the cover up if they had sick loved ones ?

    The thing is,you all have special little jobs in certain fields,& it’s a good bet most of you haven’t got any idea about anything.
    A handful of brilliant minds carrying a bunch of morons.
    That’s all kinds of science really.

  83. #83 Ronnie the
    March 9, 2016

    @Novalox
    Gee you didn’t get to specific with that post,what exactly was my argument lacking ?

    My thoughts that enormous profits shouldnt be made on a cure for a cancer ? You obviously do.
    Having a child die because their family can’t afford the price tag for the cure,is a tragedy. you obviously don’t agree.
    Or was it when I pointed out that AMETHYST actually agrees with me,why else would AMETHYST state big pharma co’s are not interested in a cure unless they can make ENORMOUS profits ?
    That is my argument,
    I won the argument Novalox.The only thing lacking here is your heart.
    Why don’t you enlighten me to why Enormous profits for a cure is reasonable ?and why a child dying because their family can’t afford Enormous fee is reasonable ?
    A child dying because of profit.
    But the thought of that happening,I bet,just makes you yawn.

  84. #84 Ronnie the
    March 9, 2016

    ATTN AMETHYST
    So where you live in you’re socialist hellhole,you really think if a cure was discovered that your insurance company would pay the pharma company for it ?
    Out of their own pocket ?
    I’m confused,
    Would pharma co’s charge Enormous fees for the cure or not ?
    That is what you said earlier.
    You can’t have it both ways.

    Either it’s covered by insurance,therefore you have no need for medical insurance anymore (maybe just cheap accidental insurance or something)& you have no need for big pharma,
    Not to mention hospitals,no longer charging their outrageous fees,and who could forget all those medical researchers,don’t need therm either.

    If the cost of a cure is enormous,you & most others will die,because insurance co’s won’t cover you.

    If cost of cure is cheap & your covered,
    Big pharma,health insurers,hospital & researchers are no longer required for the most part.
    No logically thinking person can believe a cure for all those terrible cancers etc,is what they truly want.

    If you can’t see that,you can’t be reasoned with,& I actually feel sorry for you
    For those here that disagree,is it because you believe in the kindness of big pharma or what ?
    Think of it this way people,totally the opposite of a cure.
    A product that causes cancer.
    Manufacturers deny its deadly,but in fact it is.
    Not only does government not ban the sale of product after proven causes cancer
    but are profiting from the death of its citizens hopelessly addicted to product.
    Tell me one govt in the world that has banned the sale of cigarettes ?
    If those in power can ban something that kills people,but don’t
    Why on earth would those in power make available a cure (s)
    that would make them redundant

    As u said AMETHYST,doctors have bills to pay as well.
    See I told you,you keep making my argument for me

  85. #85 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 9, 2016

    “So where you live in you’re socialist hellhole,you really think if a cure was discovered that your insurance company would pay the pharma company for it.”

    Y…you do know how insurance, works, right?

    “Would pharma co’s charge Enormous fees for the cure or not ?”

    You can’t seriously be this stupid… When I said there is the potential of massive profit to be found in a cure for cancer, I was not talking about them charging millions of dollars per patient/dose but rather how people everywhere, regardless of nationality, can get cancer. It is one thing all humans have in common it is cancer. Even a reasonably priced cure would, through sheer sales numbers, be worth it for a pharmacutical company.

    “If the cost of a cure is enormous,you & most others will die,because insurance co’s won’t cover you.”

    Bull. Shit. Insurance companies regularly pay out incredibly costly treatments and drugs already. Again, you don’t seem to know anything about it whatsoever.

    “you can’t be reasoned with,& I actually feel sorry for you”

    I…I think I just had an irony stroke or something. Before I literally die by continuing this discussion, let me ask you this: what makes cancer so special in your mind? There are plenty of other diseases that we’ve in the past developed cures for. If your “treatment is more profitable than cure”-gambit is true, that makes absolutely no sense.

  86. #86 MI Dawn
    March 9, 2016

    @Ronnie the Duck: If you can’t write in complete sentences and proper words, don’t come to a science forum and try to educate those with more learning than you. You have *no* idea about cancer, treatment, or causes.

    Science has been able to cure many cancers, through surgery/chemotherapy/radiation therapy. Sometimes surgery alone cures. Sometimes chemotherapy or radiation therapy alone cure. Sometimes you need all 2 of the 3.

    Besides, isn’t Burzynski making millions off the poor suckers who come to him? Why don’t you attack him? He lies, charges far more for the medications he sells in his pharmacy than a regular pharmacy would charge for the exact same medication and tells people he’s not giving them chemotherapy when he is.

    You apparently want to go back to the golden era of dying horrible deaths at early ages from disease, leukemia, and childbirth. Go ahead. The rest of us will stay here and enjoy the products of science.

  87. #87 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 9, 2016

    Aye, there is no bigger hypocrisy than a Burzynski devotee summoning the Pharma Shill-boogeyman…

  88. #88 Lawrence
    March 9, 2016

    Well, I would say that if a company did find the “cure” for Cancer & attempted to charge exorbitant amounts of money for it, there would be a good chance that the government (or several) would take steps to take possession of this cure (or just pay the company handsomely for it) and literally give it away.

    Imagine the massive amounts of money that just about every government on earth would save (since most of them have universal health care systems) if Cancer was eliminated.

    Again, use from freakin’ common sense – because you are really coming off as a complete idiot.

  89. #89 Woo Fighter
    March 9, 2016

    Why the hell would they want no more repeat business ?

    I never understand this twisted logic from conspiracy kooks: even if every single person on the face of the earth with cancer was cured tonight, by this time tomorrow there would be an entirely new crop of people diagnosed and looking for a cure. There might not be repeat business, but there would be a never ending supply of new business. If Big Pharma had “a cure” (sic), it could charge whatever it wanted and there would be a limitless pool of customers lining up. Forever.

  90. #90 TBruce
    March 9, 2016

    Why on earth would those in power make available a cure (s)
    that would make them redundant

    Ronnie, you ignorant slut:
    There’s a miracle substance that has recently been developed that will prevent most cases of cancer of the cervix, vulva, anus and oropharynx. It is relatively cheap, very safe and easy to take. This would result in a significant reduction in cases of cancer and precancer, and the need to treat these conditions. Obviously, it’s unavailable because those in power have suppressed it to preserve their bottom line.

    Oh wait, it’s freely available. It’s called Gardasil, you dimwit.

  91. #91 Ronnie
    March 10, 2016

    ATTN MI DAWN
    Who cares about proper constructed sentences,you moron.

    Cutting a certain kind of cancer out of a certain kind of patient,and it not returning isn’t a cure,it’s luck.
    I could fracking do that.
    You say I don’t know what causes cancer,so tell me what causes brain tumours ?
    You think you have more learning than me ?
    The only thing you fools know is chemo,surgery,radiation.
    It’s a joke.

    @Woo fighter is the only one that gets my respect,as it’s true new cases will still require the treatment to cure them.
    That word ….forever,makes me think.
    It’s the cancers that can be beaten,because the cause has been found,that will make all the difference in the world.But I’ve never read one thing on here regarding prevention.

    And that’s because you Educated marvels with more “learning” than me,know nothing,

    ATTN Lwrence
    Governments will buy cure off pharma co & give it away for free
    Because savings on health care.
    Ok ,so why don’t those same governments ban cancer causing cigarette if that’s your belief ??
    Please,someone with more learning than me answer that question

  92. #92 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 10, 2016

    That got me thinking, Bruce – why aren’t boys given it too? I mean, they may not have the former “bits” but they do have the latter.

  93. #93 Amethyst
    The Crystal Temple
    March 10, 2016

    @Ronnie:
    “Ok ,so why don’t those same governments ban cancer causing cigarette if that’s your belief ??”

    Because freedom. Though, admittedly I find it kinda strange to sell something so addictive as smokes under the guise of freedom since there is very little freedom of choice involved in addiction. I also find it kinda strange that we’re not allowing weed and such under the same flag, but whatever – that’s beside the point.

    That being said, while not outright banning smokes, governments world-wide do heavily discourage the practice. Smokes are taxed like crazy, and the health risks are both known and advertised. Again, because I live in a socialist heaven/hell, my government is offering free support groups for people who are trying to quit smoking (because no doubt the cost of smoking-related diseases far outweigh the cost of running a support group like that).

  94. #94 Helianthus
    March 10, 2016

    Who cares about proper constructed sentences

    Polite people who try to do their best to communicate to others?

  95. #95 herr doktor bimler
    March 10, 2016

    Who cares about proper constructed sentences

    Generally the same people who care about properly constructed thoughts.

  96. #96 Narad
    March 10, 2016

    It’s the cancers that can be beaten,because the cause has been found,that will make all the difference in the world.

    Wait, is this a return to the truly ancient antineoplastinoid-deficiency routine, or are you unable to write?

  97. #97 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 10, 2016

    It’s the cancers that can be beaten,because the cause has been found,that will make all the difference in the world.But I’ve never read one thing on here regarding prevention.

    Some cancers can be caused by viruses. One example is the human papillomavirus, which has been associated with uterine, penile, and other cancers. There is a vaccine for HPV that Orac has written about frequently.

    I’ll also throw in that many cancers are associated with exposure to certain chemicals, fine dusts, or radioactive substances. If at all practical, reduce your exposure to those substances if you want to avoid cancer. This is no guarantee, and it may not be practical to avoid all of those.

  98. #98 Opus
    Just north of the buckle on the bible belt
    March 10, 2016

    Ronnie:
    A couple of questions regarding the payments from ‘Big Pharma:’

    – Since this is a worldwide conspiracy, who manages the database to track which ‘shills’ get paid how much? Where is the data center located?
    – How are the currency conversion transactions hidden?
    – How do the Pharma Overlords locate and pay ‘shills’ who blog under a pseudonym?
    – Are the payments taxable income? Earned income or another type of income? How are they reported to federal/national revenue agencies?
    – Where are the payments hidden in company financial records? Since my wife has multiple myeloma and is treated with Velcade, please point out the line on the Takeda Corporation’s consolidated financial statement for 2015 where payments to Velcade ‘shills’ are shown, as well as the costs of managing these payments.
    – The Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires that all payments to physicians be posted to a federal database. Where are Orac’s payments shown?
    – All federal contracts are listed on a database. Where is Orac’s contract for ‘shilling’ listed?
    – Payments to shills in certain countries are prohibited by federal law. How are these handled?

    I am sure I’ll have some follow-up questionss but please enlighten us – given your expertise I’m sure these questions can be answered in a flash!

  99. #99 Helianthus
    March 10, 2016

    @ Mephistopheles O’Brien

    This is no guarantee, and it may not be practical to avoid all of those.

    Indeed. Living underground will help to avoid our sun’s UV radiation – and other, more energetic rays. Thus minimizing exposure to a highly contributing factor to skin cancers. But then, by doing so, you will forfeit the benefits of sun exposure, like synthesis of vitamin D.

    Oxygen is a big source of oxidative stress in our tissues. But it is very unpractical to try avoiding breathing.

    A bit more seriously, I’m afraid the general consensus on cancer prevention comes down to the usual: more vegetables, less meat, a varied diet, not too much spices, definitively no smoking, and do some exercise.

    In the archives here and in Orac’s other blog, people have written numerous times on the results of studies on cancer prevention. Unfortunately, most of the times the results are on the line of “that may help, a bit” (e.g. high-fiber diet), or “that didn’t look like that did any good” (e.g. increased intake of vitamins and anti-free radicals).
    Putting on some sunscreen is definitively on the “helping” list, though. And recently, to belabor the point, anti-HPV and anti-hepB vaccines have joined this list.

  100. #100 Daniel Corcos
    France
    March 10, 2016

    Not a general consensus, but I would say that if you are a DNA repair mutation carrier, better avoid mammography.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/daniel.corcos.1/comments/

  101. #101 SteveJ
    March 10, 2016

    @Amethyst 92
    [blockquote]That got me thinking, Bruce – why aren’t boys given it too? I mean, they may not have the former “bits” but they do have the latter.[/blockquote]
    The CDC recommends giving an HPV vaccine series to all children at 11 or 12 years of age. The FDA approved it for use in boys back in 2010.

  102. #102 justthestats
    March 10, 2016

    I have to say that I’m impressed. Ronnie is doing much better at trolling than he/she has ever done with previous ‘nyms.

  103. #103 TBruce
    March 10, 2016

    @Amethyst:
    Yes, as SteveJ says, the HPV vaccine is recommended for boys as well.
    I also forgot to mention cancer of the penis. Probably because I want to avoid thinking about the treatment (penectomy).

  104. #104 has
    March 10, 2016

    Opus@98: Excellent questions all, but good luck on getting answers as the only prosecutable thief around here would to be ‘Ronnie’, for stealing oxygen.

  105. #105 MI Dawn
    March 10, 2016

    @justthestats: Ronnie is a return troll? I didn’t know that. I just really dislike people who can’t write coherently.

  106. #106 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 10, 2016

    Living underground will help to avoid our sun’s UV radiation – and other, more energetic rays. Thus minimizing exposure to a highly contributing factor to skin cancers. But then, by doing so, you will forfeit the benefits of sun exposure, like synthesis of vitamin D.

    You also increase your exposure to radon underground. Radon causes an estimated 20k cancer deaths per year in the US.

  107. #107 Ronnie
    March 11, 2016

    To those on here with higher learning,can anyone tell me about burzinski’s patents regarding antineoplastons,& the US government subsequent patents of the same thing or something similar,along with I believe,Elen pharma,& a former employee of burzinski ?

    ATTN ORAC
    Didn’t I read in an earlier blog of yours, that you thought some certain brain tumours may well benefit from burzinski’s treatment of antineoplastons ?

    So can patients benefit from burzinski’s antineoplastons,or is he a quack ?
    I’m not from the school of higher learning,but I believe this is what you call …. (Just looking through the dictionary)
    CONTRADICTIVE.

    the floor is all yours DUX,start quackin’

  108. #108 Ronnie
    March 12, 2016

    How many times has burzinski beaten TMB & FDA in court ?
    It’s unheard of.
    So the FDA will spend millions of dollars(trying) to stop burzinski treating patients with something that works on a bigger percentage of patients than anything else

    Haven’t you fools listened to his patients ?
    Of course you haven’t because you know it all.
    Burzinski has had people testify in court regarding antineoplastons that have a lot more knowledge than you retards,
    FACT

  109. #109 Ronnie
    March 12, 2016

    Burzinski’s malfeasance ?

    Malfeasance meaning : wrongdoing or misconduct,especially by a public official
    Illegal or dishonest activity,especially by a public official or corporation
    Sounds like you should be talking about the TMB & FDA,
    beaten comprehensively, five, or is it six times,in a court of law.

    Still waiting for all your thoughts on why the FDA or any government agency anywhere in the world have never outlawed cigarettes ?
    Not one,I don’t believe.
    If any govt really cared about people,please enlighten me & answer this question.
    Now that’s malfeasance.

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