Clinical trials

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Clinical trials

As regular readers know, I was quite happy that Skeptical Inquirer (SI) agreed to publish articles by Bob Blaskiewicz and myself about the highly dubious cancer doctor in Houston known as Stanislaw Burzynski. Indeed, Bob and I have been busily doing our best to promote it, appearing on various podcasts, including Point of Inquiry and,…

Of all the cranks, quacks, antivaccinationists, and pseudoscientists that I’ve encountered (and applied a bit of not-so-Respectful Insolence to) over the years, there are a few who belong in the top tier—or, if you prefer, the bottom tier. They stick out in my memory for a variety of reasons, either through their sheer crankitude on…

Note: I was busy doing something last night that left me no time to compose any fresh Insolence, which will become apparent by this weekend. In the meantime, however, I’m betting quite a few of you haven’t seen this before, and those who have might want to discuss it further in a different environment. Quackademic…

As I sat down to write this bit of Insolence, I had at least two ideas for what I thought would be informative, entertaining, and timely posts. I also didn’t want to have to write about Stanislaw Burzynski again after having just done so on Friday, having to note that the FDA caved, granting compassionate…

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” I know I’ve used that quote before several times over the 9+ years that I’ve been blogging. These days, I probably use it most frequently when it comes to the topic of Stanislaw Burzynski. Every time I think that I can give the…

If there’s one thing a budding skeptic quickly learns is that at the core of any good woo almost invariably lurks at least one conspiracy theory. At the risk of flirting a little too close to Godwin territory, this simple fact about pseudoscience, pseudohistory, and other non-evidence-based belief systems was first driven home to me…

If there’s a topic that I don’t write about much, it’s obstetrics. The reason is that it’s not a major area of my interest, and it’s not an area where I have as much expertise as I do in, say, cancer or even vaccines. My expertise in cancer comes from my career, of course, and…

Attacks on the FDA on Mercola.com

I forgot if I ever mentioned that I have an article out in the current episode of Skeptical Inquirer about Stanislaw Burzynski. I call it a “primer for skeptics,” because that’s what it is. So, if you subscribe to SI (Skeptical Inquirer, not Sports Illustrated), read. If not, get thee to a newsstand before it’s…

One of my favorite shows right now is True Detective, an HBO show in which two cops pursue a serial killer over the course of over 16 years. Starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, it’s an amazingly creepy show, and McConaughey is amazing at playing his character, Rustin Cohle. I’m sad that the show will…

Rare is the occasion when I disagree significantly with my collaborator Steve Novella, but this is one of those times. It’s a measure of how much we agree on most things that, even in this case, I don’t completely disagree with him. But, hey, it happens. I’m referring to Steve’s post yesterday in which he…

The last couple of weeks, I’ve made allusions to the “Bat Signal” (or, as I called it, the “Cancer Signal,” although that’s a horrible name and I need to think of a better one). Basically, when Bat Cancer Signal goes up (hey, I like that one better, but do bats get cancer?), it means that…

More Tooth Fairy science studying acupuncture

I must confess, I had a rather rough time yesterday. Actually, it’s been a rough winter, at least as far as my car is concerned. Record amounts of snow and a January much colder than usual have wreaked havoc on the roads around where I live, producing craters that make our roads and freeways look…

I don’t know if it’s a sign that I’ve arrived as being a bit more influential than just a blogger or just dumb luck when reporters start sending me things, but I’ll take it. It’s like blog fodder being served to me on the proverbial silver platter. Unfortunately, as a result of receiving a press…

There are certain things that can happen that are the equivalent of the Bat Signal to me; that is, if you can swallow the idea of me being in any way like Bruce Wayne. Call them the Cancer Signal, if you will. When I see the Cancer Signal, I know that I have to head…

If there’s one thing that I write that I don’t feel I repeat too much (although some might disagree), it’s that, unlike other centers and institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is not, and never was, a compelling scientific justification for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to exist…

Believe it or not, I’m about to say the one and only good thing I will say about Stanislaw Burzynski in this post. After all, I was always taught to find the good in my opponents, no matter how vile I find them. Burzynski, for instance, has been peddling a cure for brain cancer (and…

I realize that I just wrote about infamous cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski yesterday. (Note how I refuse to call him an “oncologist,” mainly because he isn’t one, having never completed an oncology fellowship—or even an internal medicine residency, the usual prerequisite to do an oncology fellowship.) However, there’s a bit more that I wanted to…

The year 2013 finished with serious setbacks for Stanislaw Burzynski and his unproven cancer treatment that he dubbed “antineoplastons” (ANPs) way back in the early 1970s. As you might recall, in November, two things happened. First, the FDA released its initial reports on its inspection of the Burzynski Clinic and Burzynski Research Institute (BRI) carried…

Practitioners of “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) have a love-hate relationship with randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Actually, it’s mostly hate, but they do crave the validation that only randomized clinical trials can provide within the paradigm of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Yes, I intentionally said EBM, rather than science-based medicine (SBM), because, as I’ve described so…

Here we go again. In the wake of study after study that fails to find activity of various “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) beyond that of placebo, the campaign to a “rebrand” CAM as “working” through the “power of placebo” continues apace, in the wake of the successful campaign to “rebrand” various needle-based medical modalities…

Well, that didn’t take long. I knew it had been too quiet on the Burzynski front. In retrospect, that was almost certainly because of the holidays, but the holidays are over, and real life is here again. Yes, the year 2014 is only a little more than a week old, and here comes Stanislaw Burzynski…

As I write this, 2013 is drawing to a close, with only a little more than 12 hours to go before the crowds now gathering at Times Square and elsewhere ring in 2014. For some of you, 2014 has already arrived or will arrive many hours before it does for me. I’m not normally one…

I remember during medical school that more than one of my faculty used to have a regularly repeated crack that the only thing that taking vitamin supplements could do for you was to produce expensive pee. My first year in medical school was nearly thirty years ago now; so it’s been a long time. During…

The central mystery of Stanislaw Burzynski is how he keeps managing, no matter what is thrown at him by state and federal medical authorities, to keep on treating patients with deadly cancers. He’s like the Energizer Bunny; he just keeps going and going and going and going. Or maybe he’s like the game Whac-A-Mole™, where,…

Three weeks ago, USA TODAY published an expose of the Burzynski Clinic by Liz Szabo that was devastating in its scope and detail. Early on, Stanislaw Burzynski and his minions tried to do some damage control, with hilarious results given how inept and unconvincing his excuses were for all the violations of ethics and patient…