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Comments 28

Closing down Dr Burzynski – updated

from BlackCatte’s blog

Chemotherapy often doesn’t work. Everyone admits it’s not a perfect treatment. So, why, when a man comes along with a new approach that seems to yield amazing results, does the US medical establishment and the FDA unite to try and close him down and even put him in jail?

If you believe Big Pharma is all about curing people and increasing human wellbeing – you probably shouldn’t watch this movie.

Ultimately, it’s not about whether Burzynski’s therapy is a complete cure or simply another partial answer, it’s about whether people have the right to full information on all medical options, and whether the medial establishment is there to serve us or the drug company monopolies.

Oh btw – after twenty years of calling him a fraud, the United States stole Burzynski’s patent and registered his therapy for themselves.

No, really.

UPDATE June 11 2016

When OffG republished this article yesterday I didn’t know Burzynski’s trial was currently ongoing. Pure coincidence. But since this article has attracted some attention, I thought it might be interesting to post this small piece about the situation. It’s one-sided of course, but it helps to balance the comments offered below, and to give a slightly fuller picture of this complex issue.

For those interested in getting more detail, the Burzynski Film Youtube channel has footage of the entire hearing, including testimony of patients who have apparently been cured, or at least had prolongation of their life expectancy, as a result of this controversial treatment.

BTW what to make of this statement from the FDA Burau of Drugs Director back in 1982? Is it simply stripped of context?
Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 19.17.52


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28 Comments

  1. I first learned of Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski when reading the 1999 edition of Ralph W. Moss’s book The Cancer Industry, which contains an approx. 50-page chapter detailing good physician’s the life, work and struggles with the FDA, who have been on his case since 1977 (seven years after he emigrated from Poland to the US) and who have apparently been persecuting him as vigorously Inspector Javert did Jean Valjean in Les Misérables since they sent their agents on “search and secure” mission to his thriving clinic in Huston accompanied by an armed US marshall on July 17, 1985.

    During that raid, FDA Compliance Officer Kenneth P. Ewing, brandishing a search warrant, helped his men load eleven four-drawer filing cabinets into a large truck. They took away over 200,000 medical documents including the confidential records of over a thousand cancer patients.

    Valjean endured 19 years of persecution in the novel. So far Burzynski has had to endure 39 years. No doubt, when he moved west, the good doctor thought he was escaping totalitarianism for freedom. Poor sod! But he has amassed thousands of grateful patient testimonies.

    https://www.amazon.com/Cancer-Industry-Ralph-W-Moss/dp/1881025098?ie=UTF8&Version=1&entries=0

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  2. Willem says

    I first would like to acknowledge that I never heard of Dr Burzynski, his therapy and the controversy of Antineoplaston as cancer treatment before I read/watched today’s blog.

    But there surely is a lot of info on the work of Dr Burzynski available on the internet. For instance the HoustonCancerQuack seems to have written an honest systematic review on the work of Dr Burzynski. See: https://thehoustoncancerquack.com

    What doesn’t look to good is that, though there are cancer survivors in Dr Burzynski trials that a) the treatment is very expensive (easily>100 000 US Dollar), B) that in the trials of Dr Burzynski most patients die, and that the survivor rate is not different as compared with placebo treatment in chemotherapy trials, and c) that most of his trials are either scanty or not published at all (This can be observed at the trial website clinicaltrials.gov, where clinical trials need to be registered before they are conducted: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=Burzynski&pg=1)

    When I want to be informed about whether someone is a quack or a briliant doctor, I usually go to the webpage of James Randi. When a doctor pops up in his search machine, it’s usually bad news..

    According to Randi’s website, there are two problems with Dr Burzynski: 1) scanty trials that prove nothing which are 2) approved by the FDA. See http://web.randi.org/swift/another-brain-cancer-patient-suffers-and-dies-following-burzynski-treatment

    I know too little of Dr Burzynski’s trials to make a strong judgment on whether his treatment with antineoplaston is or isn’t working in cancer patients, but believe that the quote from Carl Sagan is in place here, that is that ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’… And extraordinary evidence seems to be missing in Dr Burzynski’s trials om antineoplaston.

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    • I absolutely have no dog in this fight and am approaching it from a purely objective observer POV, but don’t you think a single issue website called “thehoustoncancerquack.com” just might have an agenda? 🙂

      The problem is that if Dr B’s therapy really does offer a challenge to the multi-million dollar cancer treatment (not cure) industry then we would expect exactly this kind of response wouldn’t we. A number of allegedly independent blogs and websites devoted to using invective and maybe dodgy or misleading claims to discredit him in the eyes of any casual Googler.

      So, how can we tell if this is the real deal or simply propaganda? it’s difficult isn’t it.

      And let’s not fall into the trap of seeing the FDA as some fearless champion of public health. On the contrary it routinely rubber stamps food additives and drugs known to be detrimental to consumers. So, at best, it seems to finds its conscience only when that dovetails nicely with the pharmaceutical giants’ profit margins.

      Put simply, if Glaxo Smith Klein or Pfizer were marketing Dr B’s therapy, would the FDA, Randi et al have the same objections?

      (PS – while I respect your opinion, I would never used James Randi as a source for dispassionate enquiry. He’s proven himself too willing to cheat in the service of prevailing narrative, and is way too emotionally invested in the sanctity of his perceived status quo.)

      Liked by 1 person

        • Unintentionally amusing of you Bob. There are drugs released on to the market all the time with barely sufficient trials to their name, and no proof of efficacy. it’s not a question of efficacy, it’s a question of what company name is on the pack.

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          • Willem says

            Perhaps I should acknowledge again that I know too little of Dr Burzynski’s work to have a strong opinion on the matter. And thank you for the update on the ongoing trial. That result will be interesting and sure: I hope that Dr B’s treatment works in cancer patients (i.e. with proof from rigourously conducted randomized trials).

            Regarding the other part of this post, i.e. that the FDA is an agency with double standards: on that I absolutely agree with you. Actually, this is proven. Recently, a number of reports have been published in the BMJ (unfortunately behind a paywall) on two new bloodthinners, rivaroxaban and dabigatran. Both drugs are recently approved by the FDA and EMA despite tremendous problems in the trials. For instance in the rivaroxaban trial, the company (Bayer/Johnson&Johnson) deliberately (proven) compared their drug to the standard drug that was not monitored correctly (meaning that patients bled more on the standard drug then would have happened if they were correctly treated with the standard drug). Which is important as the company claims that their new drug (rivaroxaban) is safer (in terms of bleeding) than the standard drug, and advertises this as such to patients and clinicians alike. The FDA knew this and knows this and still approved and approves the drug, which is a blockbuster for the company (multi billion dollar profit industry).

            The BMJ report on rivaroxaban (xarelto) can be found here:
            http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i575

            And on dabigatran (pradaxa) here:
            http://www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g4670

            Interestingly, the principal investigator on the rivaroxaban trial, Robert Califf, who used to be payed by pharma (and his institution, Duke University, still is) recently became the new head of the FDA.

            There is a lot more on this, which you can find at:

            http://www.pogo.org/blog/2015/11/fda-nominee-robert-califf-led-faulted-fda-trial.html

            And here: https://search.citizen.org/search?q=Rivaroxaban&site=WorstPills&client=Worstpills&output=xml_no_dtd&proxystylesheet=Worstpills&filter=p

            The MSM is pretty silent about all of this and even worse, most patients and doctors know nothing about these scandalous studies and their profitable results.

            I cannot say much more on this, but perhaps people from Pogo or Public Citizen may be interested to share their opinion on this matter with you on this blog, when asked. I think it is very interesting and important when the results of these trials, and the aftermath, becomes known to a wider public.

            Like

          • I believe it’s written into law otherwise, that safety and efficacy should be demonstrated, yes? Well, ideally. I know that there are shortcomings. There’s a really interesting book about called Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre where he talks about how you can cheat the system, but he does it in a way that does not throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were. (It’s a program of transparency and reform he’s endorsing.) But the fact that something like only 1 in 10 compounds (9.6% over the last 10 years or so) that makes it to Phase I trials makes it to market surely has to suggest that the FDA is not stamping “approved” on drugs willy-nilly based on the name of the company.

            What I was specifically asking was if another company (and Burzynski is a drug manufacturer, no mistake) had a trial completion record of 0% and charged people out the wazoo to be on those trials, literally nothing to show for it, that you’d have problems with that, yes?

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            • But in a non-insanely literal world he clearly does have things to show for it. People who are alive, who were told they were going to die and that conventional medicine had nothing for them. Is this proof he cured them? No. But it’s evidence. of something that can’t simply go undiscussed. And again you miss my real point. Why prosecute this man for simply trying a relatively benign therapy on terminally ill patients with nothing to lose? That is the problem. It’s about asserting control in ways that defy need and logic.

              I take your point about the trial completion record.But I can’t evaluate it since I don’t know how the process works, or whose decisions govern the publication of results on that site.

              BTW – of course the law requires the full testing of all drugs for safety, but we’d be naive to believe the law is uniformly applied, right? it’s not just an empty conspiracy theory that asserts Big Pharma is largely above the law. In many crucial ways, that’s true.

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              • I agree with you in that there is evidence that must be weighed and evaluated. (One thing that I tell my students is that everything is evidence for something; it’s just a matter of figuring out what it is evidence of.) In this case it’s just not great evidence. Certainly not the type of evidence that we should use to base medical decisions off of. The general spontaneous remission rate is about 2% (and I’m not going to argue that B’s survivors are spontaneous remission–we can’t know). But, even if we knew that a doctor was only giving cancer patients water and nothing else, we would still expect 2% of the patients to survive. As it stands, we can’t say that any survivor is in that 2% or is likely to have benefited from treatment. Sigh. It’s complicated in Burzynski’s case when you look at the fact that most brain stem tumors can’t be biopsied for verification because of their location and because experts will disagree over the radiological diagnosis of rare brain tumors 40% of the time.

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                • I do think that you’d like the Goldacre book, though. He goes through all the ways you can influence results both intentionally and unintentionally. I got a lot out of it. He wants all trials to be registered and all results reported.

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            • Donny says

              The fact that the FDA likes to hire former pharmaceutical executives to run the agency is a good enough reason to start asking serious questions.

              The interesting thing, for me, about Dr.Burzynski is the fact that in over 20 years of investigating this guy, about the best they can come up with is he makes a lot of money.

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              • Well, where else are you going to find people who know how to regulate the industry or examine clinical trials except…. in the industry where they have done clinical trials? That’s not a small problem. And there is so much more than just “him making money” that we are worried about. Heck, if he has what he claims, he can charge whatever he likes and I’ll nominate him for a Nobel Prize. But that’s not the case at all. He’s probably going to lose his license in a few days, if the TMB can prove to the satisfaction of a pair of judges that just a fraction of these charges are true: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B2Z0ehSpPFuTa0hhaGNDald2X0k

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    • There are many problems with relying on James Randi as a credible unbiased source for judging anything. For starters, Randi’s own personal integrity has been called into question (an example being Will Storr’s article in the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/11270453/James-Randi-debunking-the-king-of-the-debunkers.html).

      There are also claims that his organization is funded by the Military Industrial Complex, and if you read the site regularly you will soon become aware of the regular commenters there who are forever defending establishment claims and memes, and ridiculing any who dare to question them. (http://projectavalon.net/forum4/showthread.php?70042-The-James-Randi-forum–JREF–is-funded-by-the-military.–Why-it-bans-9-11-truth-)

      Finally, Randi is a theatre magician—a faker by trade, and neither a medical practitioner nor a specialist in cancer research. Why should his opinion on a doctor carry any stamp of authority whatsoever?

      When I want to be informed about whether someone is a quack or a brilliant doctor, I seek out the relevant information on his record and his reputation from as wide a range of informed and impartial sources as is necessary. What the Randi site may have to say about him carries little weight since it appears to be a very obvious establishment gate-keeping operation that has close to zero credibility with me.

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  3. O Lucky Man! says

    I find it fascinating to see how this man has stood against the medical establishment over the past 30 years through constant harassment and legal proceedings and is still going strong. It appears quite certain that he has helped some people back to health who had been given little to no hope by conventional treatments. He has no doubt failed in some cases, made mistakes in others and learned along the way like any other medical practitioner. His crime is not to conform, and particularly to have the audacity to attempt to patent for his own benefit “the treatment” he has been developing.

    What his case illustrates to me is the monolithic nature of our society’s approach to disease, and how it has become equated (like almost everything else) to money. What the authorities are trying to do under the guise of keeping the public from being exploited is to protect their hold on “the treatment” and the whole financial infrastructure of industry, institution and authority that goes along with it.

    Yes, no one would deny that a certain level of regulation in this area is obviously necessary, but as is shown by the establishments appropriation of “the treatment” as something for them to exploit financially (or bury to avoid financial competition), they are effectively using this as a guise to cloak the unpalatable truth.

    Money, money, money. It has primacy over all other considerations in the field of healthcare. The patients and the diseases and the doctors and the research are all subsidiary to the maintenance of the financial viability and shareholder profits of the established system. Finance first, your health to be dealt with once the money is all in order.

    The establishment mentality is that if a Burzynski is allowed to go his own way financially, even supported, encouraged, integrated or just tolerated then the gates will open and their dividends will start to whither away. But the battle against him is beginning to seem anachronistic already, like that against Gerson and so many others now far flung into the confederacy of heretics . You can sense the whole calcified construct beginning to shiver and mutate already if you just care to look a little under its surface. Take on board the potential for cannabis oil, just to give one example. Where’s the real money in that?!

    The fact is of course that all of us carry cancer in our bodies all of the time. Your environment, your emotions, your nutrition, even your state of mind are all are beginning to be realised as by far the greatest root causes of your physiology breaking down and allowing it to flourish. The days when people see money, and people look to money, and people need and believe in money as “the treatment” are numbered. A culture of prevention will one day be costing us all, both personally and financially, so much less.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, he definitely has a slant on it, however, he convincingly shows that there is good reason to doubt that anyone who was shown in that movie has responded to the treatment (and that there is evidence to the contrary). With the Ressel case, the one with the marker, it’s not the marker that bothers him. It’s that the tumor apparently doesn’t meet the criteria of DIPG (namely, it should be diffuse, not encapsulated). And the really big problem is that the shadow grows and shrinks independently of the dose of ANP and the duration of treatment, which strongly suggests that the ANP is having no effect on something that is not a brain tumor. And that’s supposed to be his strongest case. Without a biopsy, we can’t know what it was. About Fenton, well, he gives 3 possibilities. The fact that there was a biopsy does complicate things; as he said, he’s seen weird reactions to biopsies before. So while it wasn’t treated, it still had a procedure done on it. This is why we’d want to see large trials, to average out the weird things, should there be any.

    I think that the relationship between the FDA and pharmaceutical companies is really complicated. I mean, the FDA is charged with protecting the public and the market. Those are often at cross purposes, a conflict of interest. I’d much rather have a government entity that guards markets and one that protects consumers (the one protecting consumers trumping the rulings of the market advocate). The other problem is where are you going to find people who know enough about how the pharma market works to regulate it besides people in the field? So there are problems there.

    Cancer survivorship is at about 60%, according to the numbers I’ve seen most recently. That’s conventional therapy. But these brain tumors, yeah, there’s nothing worse or harder to treat. They are really, really bad.

    I don’t think he was prosecuted for using the treatment, per se, but for shipping it across state lines, which he was not supposed to do.

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    • With respect you are allowing the man’s rhetorical tricks to deceive you. You say “the really big problem is that the shadow grows and shrinks independently of the dose of ANP,” as if this means something about the treatment. The guy claims airily that – in his opinion – the tumour would have regressed without treatment. But if he had been shown the same disease profile on a patient being given chemo, would he have made the same claim? At best this merely complicates the evidence and certainly doesn’t discredit it. This is mere subjective POV stuff and establishes nothing concrete other than the man’s prevailing prejudice.

      The case in which he claims the biopsy was actually responsible for removing the bulk of the tumour is such extreme special pleading it doesn’t require a response beyond that.

      Large trials would be ideal – but isn’t it the FDA that is helping to block these – in the name of protecting the public?

      In a real free market system you don’t have government bodies to “protect the market”. It’s an oxymoron. This is why our current system is not free market at all. It’s inverted socialism, with public taxation being used to fund welfare projects for the corporate giants and the .1%. The FDA is nothing more than a tool of that process, and to plead “complexity” and “conflicts of interest” etc is simply to blow smoke over that stark truth.

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      • I suspect that he would give the same analysis if, say, the patient was on, say a breast cancer drug for a brain tumor and he didn’t know it. He merely has seen literally thousands of patients and has a research interest in tumor growth. There’s a difference between “opinion”–which is what you and I have– and “professional judgment” which he has. When patients go on a new drug and the tumor shrinks, that’s a good thing, but when the tumor starts growing again, that means that all the new cells come from ones that were immune to the chemotherapy. So the doctors go to the next drug. It doesn’t make sense that a drug would shrink then grow….and then shrink again. It’s just not how it works. So, it’s not a mere rhetorical flourish. As far as what you call special pleading…even though he’s seen it before with breast cancer… he doesn’t say that’s what happened. Indeed, he says, maybe it did have an effect, though the chances are small and it need not be the case to have that outcome.

        The FDA has, for all Burzynski’s protestations to the contrary, helped him. They refused to back the prosecutor during the trial in the 1990s and allowed him to open clinical trials, which gave him the loophole he needed to stay out of prison. They’ve approved more trials for 20 years and in return he has produced, well, look here: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=burzynski&Search=Search All those incomplete, missing results. I’m stunned that given that record that former patients don’t demand that Burzynski report his results in a credible journal.

        So if you don’t accept knowledgeable professional judgment, I’m curious what would convince you that Burzynski’s treatment didn’t work?

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        • Well, a professional “judgement” is still an opinion, and potentially subjective. You could make the same claim about NATO military “experts” alleging Russia invaded Ukraine couldn’t you. Even experts are swayed by prevailing narratives and institutional prejudice.

          And presenting one side of any argument – as you do – is merely propagandist, whether intentionally so or not. A dispassionate analysis is needed, but not yet provided. The questions are complex and easy to distort in either direction. To give just one example, most of Dr B’s patients were diagnosed as terminal when they entered his care – considered beyond the help of conventional medicine. In these circumstances even minimal success at prolonging life is potentially significant. If only one of his alleged cures are real – that’s actually quite something right there, of itself.

          Your last question demonstrates you don’t really understand where I am coming from. I’m not alleging Dr B’s therapies definitely work. I think that question remains debatable. I’m asking why he’s being persecuted. You allege (without evidence so far as I can see) that Dr B did those trials just to “stay out of prison”, but you miss the really important question right there – why is/was he at risk of imprisonment at all? He’s a qualified practitioner. He’s offering a – relatively – benign therapy to patients diagnosed as terminal, who will likely die soon whatever happens. His patients are voluntary, and know the score. Why does he need to be stopped, let alone punished?

          What is being protected here? The dying patients? Someone’s arbitrary sense of what is “appropriate” treatment? Corporate monopolies? Unless we know the answer to this we can’t easily evaluate the various evidence offered to us.

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          • Normally I’d agree with you about professional judgment being a sort of opinion but only with a MASSIVE qualification. That a professional’s opinion is overwhelmingly more likely to be correct than a lay person’s. (Burzynski, by the way, not an oncologist and not trained to do clinical trials.) And ultimately that doesn’t change the equation on the other end regarding the patient’s autonomy. They still take the reigns, as it were and can make decisions.

            I would say, based on the last several years of looking at this issue that when Burzynski loses his license, patients will be better off, that patients are being protected. I’d be very happy if you would look at one story I wrote a few years ago. I’ve found a pattern of Burzynski’s patients celebrating signs of getting worse–unambiguous signs of getting worse that no other doctor’s patients report. https://theotherburzynskipatientgroup.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/burzynski-patient-amelia-s-s-story-3/

            I saw it in about 7 of the first 50 patients I looked at, and I saw it going back in the press for 20 years. Some of the issues regarding whether or not ANP is safe are addressed too, and I cite all my work. Please do look at that, because it’s sort of terrifying. At least you will understand why I am pretty dogged about this issue.

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        • Mary says

          The fact that patients doomed to die shortly after conventional treatment are alive and cancer free decades later, is proof for me. The issue is our right to consent to our care! Who cares about protocols. The end justifies the means. FDA approved meds and treatment are the 3rd largest cause of death and lawsuits , in America. Whether the cure comes from an individual or large pharm should not matter. Busted!

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  5. Really, no. If you look at the patent that they are talking about, the researcher cites Burzynski’s prior work. It’s like writing “I stole this car from Jim Henson at #1 Happy Street” on a car you just stole from the front of #1 Happy Street where Jim Henson lives. As far as I can tell, patent theft is impossible, unless you were to have a patent lawyer steal your idea and patent it instead of you. The documentary has all sorts of problems, honestly. A review by an MD: https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/stanislaw-burzynski-bad-medicine-a-bad-movie/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mmmm…I checked out the article. The man is a little biased isn’t he. I mean he clearly starts with the a priori assumption that Dr B and his therapy are “woo,” and proceeds from there. His reasons for throwing out the “success stories” featured in the film seem flimsy and forced. He rejects one because the tumour regressed “too quickly” (seriously?). He rejects another because the pathology report isn’t included and there is a yellow mark added to an image of the diseased brain!

      He dismisses Dr B as a “woo” merchant and his alleged persecution by the FDA as a “conspiracy theory”, without offering any evidence for this beyond ridicule. But this is unwarranted. In the real world there is ample evidence that the FDA serves the interests of the drug companies at the expense of patients. To dismiss any such allegation out of hand is simply his own wishful thinking.

      If there was a conventional treatment for cancer that had a predictable, 70-80% guarantee of success then this man’s dismissive attitude might be justified. But we all know this isn’t the case. Chemo and radiotherapy remain desperately ineffective in many cases and bring huge risks of additional pathology with them. Many cancer patients die of their chemo not their cancer. I’m not sure if this is really hands down better than what Dr B is offering, are you?

      Given our less than perfect mastery of cancer treatment I just think it seems only reasonable to allow people access to alternative therapies which, even if they don’t always cure, are also rather less likely to kill.

      And however you slice it, the patent was taken out on a process Dr B had been prosecuted for using.

      Liked by 1 person

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