Clinical trials

Respectful Insolence

Category archives for Clinical trials

“Alternative medicine,” so-called “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM), or, as it’s become fashionable to call it, “integrative medicine” is a set of medical practices that are far more based on belief than science. As my good bud and collaborator Mark Crislip so pointedly reminded us last week, CAM is far more akin to religion than…

Time really does fly. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a week since I gave my big (to me, at least) talk at TAM. It’s equally hard to believe that it’s been more than a week since I had the honor of being kicked out of Penn Jillette’s Private Rock & Roll Bacon…

Believe it or not, I’m going to do Eric Merola (who doesn’t particularly like me, to the point of thinking, apparently, that I’m a white supremacist who doesn’t like evidence but does like to eat puppies) a favor. Having been away at TAM, somehow I missed this. Well, actually, I didn’t miss it, but somehow…

As I write this, I’m winging my way home from TAM, crammed uncomfortably—very uncomfortably—in a window seat in steerage—I mean, coach). I had thought of simply recounting the adventures of the contingent of skeptics with whom I’m associated who did make it out to TAM to give talks at workshops and the main stage and…

Here we go again. Oh, well. These things come in waves, and sometimes I have theme weeks. Right now, this week appears to be developing into a week of quackademic medicine involving dubious acupuncture studies. Yesterday, it was acupuncture for lymphedema after breast cancer surgery, a study coming right about what is rapidly becoming the…

I want my ANP! [NOTE ADDENDUM]

[NOTE ADDENDUM.] It’s been a (mostly) all Stanislaw Burzynski week. I had been thinking of finishing up with a post about something completely unrelated; that is, until people started sending me a link. Also, because I was out last night with my wife in celebration of our wedding anniversary, I didn’t have time for anything…

It was a busy day yesterday, and I had less time than usual to attend to the blog, but that’s OK. This random thought popped into my head after spending the last three days writing about Stanislaw Burzynski, first reviewing Eric Merola’s hagiography and infomercial about him, then seeing how well the BBC did in…

I realize that I’ve been focusing on Stanislaw Burzynski the last couple of days, but it’s just been one of those weeks. Between the release of Eric Merola’s latest paean to the Brave Maverick Doctor and BBC Panorama’s report on Burzynski and his activities, it’s been an eventful week. My review of the second Burzynski…

Well, I’ve finally seen it, and it was even worse than I had feared. One might even say that watching it was like repeatedly smacking my head into a brick wall. It felt so good when it finally stopped. I’m referring, of course, to Eric Merola’s latest cinematic “effort. Ever since it was revealed that…

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. OK, I know I use that line entirely too much, but I also don’t really care. When something fits, wear it. And if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Sorry, I’ll stop. I’m in a weird mood as I write this. But it’s…

That naturopathy is a veritable cornucopia of quackery mixed with the odd sensible, science-based suggestion here and there is not in doubt, at least not to supporters of science-based medicine (SBM). However, what naturopaths are very good at doing is representing their pseudoscience as somehow being scientific and thus on par with actual SBM. So…

I’m not alone in pointing this out, but if there’s one thing about research and clinical trials into “complementary and alternative medicine” (CAM) that has become very apparent to me over the years, it’s that the more rigorous the study the less likely it is to show an effect. In normal research, the usual progression…

A key pillar of the Stanislaw Burzynski antineoplaston marketing machine, a component of the marketing strategy without which his clinic would not be able to attract nearly as many desperate cancer patients to Houston for either his antineoplaston therapy (now under a temporary shutdown by the FDA that, if science were to reign, will become…

I’ve been very, very critical of a self-proclaimed cancer doctor named Stanislaw Burzynski, who is not an oncologist but somehow has managed over the last 36 years to treat patients with unapproved cancer drugs, list dozens of phase 2 clinical trials in ClinicalTrials.gov but never publish a completed one (at least to this date), and…

Stem cells are magical, mystical things that can’t be explained. At least, if you listen to what docs and “practitioners” who run stem cell clinics in various parts of the world, usually where regulation is lax and money from First World clientele is much sought after, that’s what you could easily come to believe. Unfortunately,…

Politics versus scientific peer review

In the United States, the federal government has long had a prominent role in funding science research. Be it the $30 billion a year or so that funds the National Institutes of Health or the $5 or $6 billion a year allotted to the National Science Foundation, the government funds a lot of basic and…

So now we know. Back when it was announced that the second Burzynski movie by Eric Merola would be screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival on April 27, Merola announced that there would be a “special celebrity guest.” Those of us who have been following Burzynski for a while scratched our heads, not knowing…

If there is one aspect of cranks that is almost universal (besides the aforementioned tendency to want to prove themselves through things like “live televised debates“), it’s a tendency to want to shut down the criticism of its opposition. True, such a tendency is a human trait as well and used far too often by,…

About a month ago, Eric Merola screened his second movie about “brave maverick doctor” Stanislaw Burzynski, Burzynski: Cancer Is A Serious Business, Part 2 (henceforth referred to as “Burzynski II”), a screening that Brian Thompson and an unnamed colleague from the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) attended, took notes, and even managed to ask a…

If there’s one thing that a certain subset of people who view themselves as reasonable and science-based don’t like, it’s harshness: Harshness in criticism, harshness in discussion, or—horror of horrors!—anything they view as “incivility.” That’s all well and good as far as it goes, but the problem is that sometimes there are things that demand…

One of the more depressing things about getting much more interested in the debate over how we should screen for common cancers, particularly breast and prostate cancer, is my increasing realization of just how little physicians themselves understand about the complexities involved in weighing the value of such tests. It’s become increasingly apparent to me…

I got a bit behind on my work yesterday, so I’ll be brief. Yesterday, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) announced its annual Pigasus Awards. Sadly, each and every year, there are far more “deserving” candidates than there are awards to give. However, this year marks something awesome, namely the first time the prize has…

When I wrote about the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) trial last week, little did I suspect that I would be revisiting the topic again so soon. For those of you not familiar with TACT, it was a trial designed to test a favorite quack treatment for cardiovascular disease, chelation therapy. It is, as…

Here we go again. Every time I think I can get away from this topic for a while, I get sucked back in. Indeed, it seems that hardly a week can go by when I don’t find myself pulled inexorably back to this horrible, horrible clinic and what I consider to be the abuses of…

R.I.P., Seán Ó’Laighin

This will be an uncharacteristically short (for Orac) post. A couple of months ago, I wrote about the sad story of a young man from Ireland named Seán Ó’Laighin diagnosed with an inoperable brainstem glioma at age 19. Even more sadly, this young man heard about the Burzynski Clinic in Houston and believed the claims…