The random thoughts of a sceptical activist

Big business in Texas

As a last hope for cancer sufferers, his name regularly appears in the media with many a fund-raising appeal launched to enable sufferers to travel to the US to visit his clinic and be treated by the great man himself.

Even a cursory search of the Internet will find many grateful customers of Dr Stanislaw R Burzynski telling how he single-handedly saved their lives, when the NHS or other cancer experts had failed or who could do no more.

If it was your last hope — or the last chance for your child — then who could blame you for wanting to give it a try?

After an uncritical article in The Observer about the heartbreaking tale of a young girl diagnosed with a brain tumour and whose parents were desperate to raise the necessary money to take their daughter to see Dr Burnzynski for treatment, Andy Lewis — quite understandably — felt compelled to write about it: The False Hope of the Burzynski Clinic.

It was not long before Andy received a threatening email from someone claiming to represent the clinic. The tactics this representative used to try to silence Andy and to force him to take his blog post down can be gauged by the title of Andy’s subsequent post: The Burzynski Clinic Threatens My Family. Despicable.

Because there are so many unanswered questions about his treatment, the spotlight of skeptical thinking has been shining brightly on the controversial promoter of his own proprietary, ‘pioneering’ cancer treatments, but the intensity has been turned up all the way to eleven in the aftermath of these and other recent threats.

There has been an avalanche of blog posts in the last few days and it is to be hoped that the name of Burzynski will be appearing high up in search rankings alongside some more skeptical comment that the clinic might be used to or want. The blogger Josephine Jones is trying to keep the list of posts up to date: Stanislaw, Streisand and Spartacus.

Even Cancer Research UK felt they had to speak up: Hope or false hope?

Going private

In the UK, we have the benefit of a health service that’s essentially free at the point of use — it’s paid for out of our taxes, and you don’t need to have your credit card handy when you’re rushed to hospital.

In the US, there is private health insurance, frequently provided as a benefit by your employer. Not everyone is covered and there are various schemes that take care of at least some basic health needs. But many in the US are left to find the money to pay for treatments, with even a basic visit to a hospital costing $115 or so.

So even in a land where simple ailments may cost you an arm and a leg, what’s the cost of Burzynski’s cancer treatment? Without a doubt, such life-saving treatment can’t come cheap.

We have seen several heart-breaking examples of parents trying to raise upwards of £200,000 to fund a trip to Burzynski’s clinic in Texas in an effort to save their child. Some of this will be on travel and accommodation, but the clinic still must receive a hefty sum for the treatment.

Getting personal…

For something that might be life-saving, you expect it to be tailored just for you. And so it is. In the information sent out to enquirers, they say:

Treatment at the Burzynski Clinic is focused on individual patient’s needs. All patients have to come to Houston for consultation with Dr. Burzynski, where personalized, individual treatment plan will be formulated. Consultation takes about 2 days, the treatment requires to stay in Houston for about 2 to 3 weeks on an outpatient basis.

But at least they give you confidence that they can cope with whatever you’ve got:

Because it is a targeted therapy, it does not matter where the cancer has spread because it shuts the cancer down at the DNA level.

And their response rates are impressive: depending on the cancer and “based on medical records of the first 1770 evaluable patients”, they claim an ‘Objective Response’ rate — ie anything from an ‘improvement’ (defined as “Decrease in size of the tumors, not confirmed yet by the second follow-up radiological measurement”) to ‘complete disappearance of all signs of cancer’ — of anything from 30% for a brain tumour to 64% for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. These dramatic claims have never appeared in the peer-reviewed literature.

Click on image to embiggen.

…and costly

I’ll leave it to others to comment on these claimed rates, but what is the cost of this ‘personalised’ treatment?

We are designing personalized treatment plan for every patient because everybody is different. In order to get the most beneficial, most effective treatment, we need genomic testing through the entire genome of 24,000 genes. It is done not by us, but by Caris Life Sciences lab in Phoenix, Arizona. The laboratory will conduct, across the entire cancerous genome, microarray testing for gene expression followed by mutational analysis, FISH, and IHC for selected genes.  The testing will provide a selection of targeted agents, which are associated with clinical benefit as well as agents associated with lack of clinical benefit.  Based on these results, we can prepare a treatment plan.

They charge around 6,000.00 US dollars and the results are ready in 2 weeks.

That’s $6,000 before they even start the treatment.

There is more, of course. A lot more. They tell prospective customers:

Cost and fees structure:

1. Physician review of all medical records before your consultation appointment:

- $500 non-refundable payment to cover the cost of the physicians’ and clinic’s evaluation services.

2. Amount due at the time of consultation is as follows:

- $1,000.00 – which covers the initial consultation appointment

- $4,000.00 – required for lab work.

3. After Dr Burzynski reviews results and determines your course of treatment a $10,000.00 deposit will be due to start basic treatment.

4. Additional deposits for prescribed medications will be required due to the FDA just recently approving some of them. Their cost can be very high. That’s  why we do not know the exact cost for treatment until these medications have been prescribed. (Estimated deposit for these medications can range between $7,000.00 – $15,000.00).

5. When you are discharged to go home the monthly deposit for basic treatment will range from $4,500 – $6,000, in addition to medications. From our experience, the treatment regimen may last between 4 to 12 months on average for the majority of our patients.

To us in the UK, these costs are incredible, and (at the moment at least) inconceivable.

Note that this FDA approval mentioned seems to be only for existing prescribed medications, not for his treatments, which are — as far as I can ascertain — still not FDA approved, and never have been. In the brochure they send out, they something slightly different:


This would seem to imply that the $5,000 to $15,000 ‘Medication deposit’ is for Burzynski’s treatment, not for FDA-approved medications.

It’s worth highlighting the ‘Monthly Case Management Fee’. As it clearly states, this cost of $4,500 to $6,000 per month (this larger number isn’t mentioned in their brochure) does not include any medications. They are extras.

Before you are discharged from our clinic, you will meet with our monitoring staff who will contact you weekly to follow your progress. This will be part of your regular monthly case management recording medications, scans, laboratory tests, and progress as needed to continue your therapy regimen.

This could therefore cost someone between $18,000 for four months to as much as $72,000 at the upper end; more if it is deemed treatment longer than 12 months is required.

Anyway, it’s not entirely clear so we cannot know what the final costs would be, but it’s easy to see how all this might add up to £200,000 or more.

We can’t know how many people he’s treated, but his brochure states the outcomes of 1,770 cases. We cannot even guess what his operating costs are, what his overheads are, and what his production costs are, and therefore what his profits are, but it must be safe to assume they on a par with the size of everything else in Texas.

49 Responses to Big business in Texas

  • If you look on YouTube for Burzynski: The Movie, you’ll be treated to a veritable roller coaster of a story. In summary, various state and federal authorities have tried and failed to have Burzynski struck off or jailed and the US Government in the form of the National Cancer Institute tried to steal his patents! Anteneoplastons, Burzynski’s treatment, have been undergoing trials approved by the NCI for many years now. It seems that there is a lot of documentation available on his success rates despite what various Debunkers/Quackwatchers have to say.

    Now, I have no idea whether or not the story as told in the movie is true. However, if it is, the US government have cost Burzynski millions in trying to bankrupt him all the while working with him on clinical trials. If, instead of trying to steal the man’s ideas, etc., they had worked with him, perhaps the drugs would have been approved by now and also be much more widely and cheaply available, saving thousands more lives.

    It seems to me that there are a lot of very credulous, supposed medical professionals and scientists castigating this man without having applied even the slightest scientific rigour to an examination of the facts in this matter on both sides of the story.

    There seems to be little in the way of independently verifiable information on the story on which to make a judgement so I, for one, will keep an open mind and not assume that self-appointed scientific critics know what they’re talking about because they almost certainly don’t in this case.

  • Jim

    Yes, I saw that advertising piece called “Burzynski: The Movie”. It doesn’t tell the whole story by any stretch of the imagination.

    Other than unverified and unverifiable anecdotes, can you point us in the direction of the loads of documentation on his success rates you think is out there?

  • You’ll have to do your own research on that, I’m afraid. I found evidence of real results when I started reading about this only last weekend. Look for information on the stage II trials at the NCI. Also, there were trials which may be ongoing in Japan.

    Burzynski has replied to his critic on the so-called Quackwatch website who also published an article in one of the American Medical Journals to which Burzynski has also replied. A few Google searches should get you there.

    It just seems to me like a David versus numerous Goliaths story and David has slewn pretty much all of them against the odds and is still going. Why would that be the case if there’s nothing in his treatment?

  • Jim

    Real results, eh? Since you asserted that there was a lot of documentation, please link to some peer-reviewed papers Burzynski has had published. And then do some searching for the debunking of Burzunski’s treatments. They are quite easy to find.

    And are you aware what phase II trials are?

  • Zeno,

    You say that you watched the movie. In the movie, documentary evidence was shown of the stages the tumours of various patients went through, i.e. patients were certified as having incurable tumours which shrank and disappeared as treatment progressed. Patients who had been told they were terminally ill, appeared before grand jury proceedings clearly quite well years after being told they would die. This may be a great pantomime. I have no idea.

    Now, I do not recall stating that there were peer reviewed papers. I presume this is part of your modus operandi: demanding to see that which does not exist and then declaring victory in an argument where you’ve decided the parameters unilaterally.

    I am neither defending nor persecuting Burzynski. I am not invested in his theory in any way whatsoever. From what I can see, he has a multi-million dollar business and a significant number of satisfied patients who are prepared to defend him. Presumably, he has significant overheads to pay, not to mention legal fees from the numerous failed attempts to put him out of business. I suspect that he charges high entry fees in order to ensure that he stays in business and is not inundated with too many patients. If I were suffering from incurable cancer and I had the means, I might be inclined to try his treatment. I feel for those who are in that position and can’t afford the treatment but it would appear to me that the blame for the current situation lies with the authorities who’ve wasted valuable years and millions of dollars pursuing a vendetta.

    I have read some of the so-called debunkings, which appear laughable to me. Burzynski seems to have answers to his critics and a track record of court victories against them too.

    I am aware what phase II trials are and I read somewhere that Burzynski’s treatment is about to begin phase III trials. I’m quite prepared to wait for concrete results before casting aspersions on the man unlike some. We shall see.

  • Perhaps you should read Burzynski The Movie: Does It Prove The Efficacy of Antineoplastons Against Cancer? and if you disagree with anything said, perhaps you could comment there?

    Of course, the right way to critically examine Burzynski’s claims is in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, not the libel court. All we need is Burzynski to publish…

  • Jim,

    If you think that there is a pile of documentation, why can’t you point us to it? Is it that special kind of evidence that disappears if no one claps and believes?

    “If, instead of trying to steal the man’s ideas, etc., they had worked with him, perhaps the drugs would have been approved by now and also be much more widely and cheaply available, saving thousands more lives.”

    If, instead of trying to defraud people and suppress honest criticism, the doctor had gone into some honest line of work, perhaps he’d be an obscure but decent person, and money wasted on his work would have gone to more promising lines of research.

  • I read the blog you mention. It seems to me that they are attempting to cast doubt on the cases on the basis of supposition and innuendo to be quite frank. The argument can be summed up as: these may not have been cancer, we’re not entirely sure but we’re going to say that anyway. Fine. Whatever. It presupposes that people paid vast sums of money to treat something which may or may not have been cancer. This strikes me as a rather odd thing to do indeed.

    I won’t participate in the blog. I sympathise with the comments of Philip and I would be inclined to respond in the same manner.

  • Andrew,

    I did my reading on the subject last weekend. It took an hour or two to search for and read some fairly interesting for and anti- information. I’m not going to engage in a defence of Burzynski I’m afraid.

    I’m not impressed by people who demand to see evidence which they know very well is not in the public domain and then attempt to use the fact that no evidence is forthcoming to imply that there is no evidence. I would prefer to wait until such times as actual evidence is published by Burzynski and the NCI as, until then, speculation is futile.

  • “David versus numerous Goliaths”
    Uh-huh. remind me again how much Burzynski earns a year. Net will do, I’m not going to insist on gross. You can even give the post-tax figure, no worries.

  • @anarchic teapot

    Funny! Whatever money Burzynski has, it is, nevertheless, finite; the state’s pockets are essentially bottomless. Whatever your point was, I think it was pointless.

  • I would have thought that the thirty-or-so years Burzynski has been conducting his “trials” was more than enough time to have published some data. The fact that he hasn’t published anything in such a long period of time strongly suggests that he has either nothing to publish or some ulterior motive for hiding. Neither is the behaviour of an honest professional doctor/scientist.

  • I’m thinking everyone needs to choose just one page that should be at/near the top of Google using the following link text…

    Burzynski Cancer Clinic

    If everyone uses the same text and target page, it should be a snap and could, in the long run, prove useful to people “researching” cancer treatments. Wikipedia currently places well but it seems it has a history of less-than-skeptical editing so who knows what it might say on any given day?

  • I thought I’d check PubMed to see if there were actually any papers by Burzynski for those claiming that he’d published nothing: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=burzynski%20antineoplaston. Only about 15 papers on the first page;). That should be your Sunday reading sorted. Enjoy!

  • Jim: on all those PubMed papers, can you point to a single one that gives a proper outcome measure from a proper trial? All I see are opinion pieces and, at best, single case reports.

    This guy is claiming the start of a phase III trial. Where’s the phase II data ?

  • @jcmacc

    I’ve already explained that I’m not defending Burzynski, simply pointing out that he’s published papers for those who demanded to see them. I haven’t read them and I’m not going to. Make of them what you will. At least it’s clearly not true to say that he hasn’t published at all. HTH.

  • Jim,

    Kevin’s point that Burzynski hasn’t published trial data in 30-odd years of alledgedly running trials is totally accurate despite the fact he’s written opinion pieces and individual case studies.

    The substantive point is that Burzynski claims to be running phase II and phase III trials of his therapy. The publication record you’d expect from such activity is totally missing, the stuff Burzynski publishes is unrelated to any known or accepted trial reports.

    When you say “I haven’t read them and I’m not going to” you are owning you to not understanding what you are defending and, worse, not even planning to understand it. When the subject is about possible, even probable, exploitation of terminally ill patients, that’s a shocking admission.

  • The scientific explanation quoted above makes no sense at all, given the current state of human genomics. Analyze all genes for the individual to determine treatment? What, are they also expert in all gene effects, beyond what other scientists and doctors *who are genomics and cancer specialists* know? And especially without analyzing the cancer cells themselves, whose genetic composition could give some idea about specific genetic changes, and are being used as diagnostics to guide cancer treatment.

    And, of course, a lot of variation is potentially due to epigenetics, not strictly genetics, so even analyzing all genes (if they could) wouldn’t be enough.

    Meanwhile, if I had a fabulous cure for any type of cancer, I wouldn’t run a clinic myself — I’d patent it and license it to the medical establishment, who would be able to use it to treat massively more people than a single clinic can, and I’d get fabulously rich from the licensing. If worried about big business, I’d talk to a major national public health system.

  • Yes, Ok, he has published… stuff, and it seems there has been some attempt at passing off the occasional bit of ‘stuff’ that sort of looks like data.

    There is some analysis of his publications here:
    http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?p=3158&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  • @jcmacc

    You seem to have failed to note the numerous times I’ve said that I’m not defending Burzynski. This makes me wonder what else you fail to read.

    Given that Burzynski has been operating trials with the NCI for years(not for 30 as near as I can tell but certainly for over a decade), why aren’t you badgering them for the trial data? If the trial data is still confidential, then no matter how much you go on about it, you’re wasting your time and everyone else. Piously banging on about the need for results is utterly futile so why are you bothering? I suppose you just enjoy congregating with other pious folk and banging on about things you can’t change. All power to your elbow but I don’t want to play this game.

    I certainly am not going to waste my time analysing this stuff for people who for some insane reason seem to think I will. I have my own problems to deal with.
    The government have failed to close Burzynski down, tried to steal his patents and appear to be working with him! Address your concerns to them!

  • Speaking of the Burzynski movie:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/stanislaw-burzynski-bad-medicine-a-bad-movie/

    it was painful to watch.

    As for Jim, I’ve read many of Burzynski’s papers. They are—shall we say?—underwhelming, to say the least. Moreover, he hasn’t published anything in peer-reviewed journals since 2006 and has published nothing in a halfway decent journal since 2004.

  • @David Gorski

    Thanks for the link to your blog. It was interesting and relatively sober compared to some of the outpourings of others here and elsewhere. At least you acknowledge that he’s published papers, etc., and so there’s a track record of at least attempting to comply with the scientific process.

    You say that the three cases presented in the movie are obviously the best cases Burzynski has. Maybe. Another possibility, of course, is that they are the three best cases in which the patients and families were prepared to appear on camera at the time filming was being done. Who knows? Of course I’ll bow to your professional knowledge but, then again, there is a lot of supposition involved in what you say and there isn’t enough information presented in the movie for a complete analysis.

    I agree that there is something fishy about Burzynski but, I have to say that if the various proceedings which are documented towards the end of the movie are anything like as presented then they are just as fishy if not more so. I note that you don’t attempt to analyse any of this material, I’d be interested in an independent timeline of the various legal proceedings and the apparent attempts to steal Burzynski’s patents. Who would blatantly try to steal worthless patents? All very odd and I’d love to know more.

    Meanwhile, Burzynski is still practicing after successfully defending himself through a huge number of legal battles which, I presume weren’t exactly conducive to running medical trials on a shoestring(as compared to trials sponsored by large pharma companies).

    Also, given the various attempts to jail him and nick his patents, could it be that he just wants to keep all the data to himself until such times as he has to publish? I think if I had a sure thing and the larger companies(and government institutions!) I had tried to get help from had tried to nick my ideas then I’d be inclined to play my cards close to my chest until I was certain that I had unassailable proof I was right and had protected my rights to my idea.

    He may well be as you say, I have no idea but one thing’s for sure: this story will run and run. I await the court case next year with baited breath.

  • You might wish to be reminded of the last two paragraphs of my post:

    Writer/producer Eric Merola uses Burzynski The Movie as a forum to pound on what he perceives as the shortcomings of the current regulatory system overseeing drugs. If anything, he’s right that our drug regulatory system has severe shortcomings, but not because it’s trying to shut Burzynski down. To me, the huge flaw in our drug regulatory system is that, after over 30 years, it has failed to determine once and for all whether or not antineoplastons have any anticancer activity, despite allowing Dr. Burzynski to treat thousands of patients with them. Although every indication thus far is that antineoplastons do not, in fact, have any appreciable antitumor activity (certainly Burzynski has utterly failed to show convincingly that any of them do), there is just enough uncertainty to allow Burzynski to portray himself to believers in alt-med as a poor, persecuted, brave maverick doctor. More disturbing from an ethics standpoint, somehow, Burzynski is still able to enroll patients on clinical trials, despite having failed to show compelling preclinical evidence of efficacy; worse, he charges them huge sums of money for the “privilege” of being on one of his clinical trials, something I and many others view as highly unethical, to the point of wondering how any Institutional Review Board could possibly approve such studies, particularly given that the FDA has warned Burzynski about how his IRB fails to protect human research subjects. Unfortunately, the Texas Medical Board failed to shut him down in the 1990s. One can only hope that it’s more successful in its next attempt, for which hearings are to commence early next year.

    Dr. Burzynski is not a miracle worker. He is not a doctor who sees something that mainstream science has not and who therefore has a cure for many cancers that mainstream medicine scoffs at. He is not a bold visionary. Rather, he appears to be a man pursuing pseudoscience. The reason that mainstream scientific medicine has not accepted the existence of antineoplastons or their efficacy against cancer is not because it is “out to get” Dr. Burzynski or is trying to protect the hegemony of the FDA or the profits of big pharma. Rather, it’s because there is no credible scientific or clinical evidence to support this therapy. Perhaps that’s why Burzynski and his followers rely on testimonials and legal threats against critics far more than they rely on clinical trials and scientific studies.

    It is incredibly unlikely that Dr. Burzynski’s antineoplastons are an effective anticancer treatment, given existing evidence, more specifically the lack of any convincing preclinical or clinical evidence that they work against cancer. Worse, it’s fairly obvious that Burzynski’s clinical trials are designed more to allow him to keep administering antineoplastons than to seek an actual answer to the question of whether antineoplastons work. Otherwise, he would not have dozens of phase II trials and not a single phase III trial thus far, other than one that is not open yet, with no firm indication of when (or if) it ever will open. I also put myself firmly on record as hoping that the Texas Medical Board does finally strip Burzynski of his medical license, just as the British General Medical Council stripped Andrew Wakefield of his license to practice medicine. It is something that should have been done the first time back in the 1990s.

  • …we need genomic testing through the entire genome of 24,000 genes. It is done not by us, but by Caris Life Sciences lab in Phoenix, Arizona. The laboratory will conduct, across the entire cancerous genome, microarray testing for gene expression followed by mutational analysis, FISH, and IHC for selected genes. The testing will provide a selection of targeted agents, which are associated with clinical benefit as well as agents associated with lack of clinical benefit.

    IHC tests? They don’t seem associated with many types of cancers, so listing them as a standard test seems a bit off.

    Most biopsies for cancer get pretty rigorous analysis. I’d be interested in knowing how many people with previous diagnosis and analysis of their genes get a new round of identical tests as part of their intake. It’s done by an outside lab, so there can’t be much difference from anyone else’s testing. (Especially not FISH.)

    I don’t even know what that last statement means. “Once you’re tested, we’ll use some things that are associated with some kind of improvement, and some that are associated with nothing.” Great! Thanks! I’ll just be over here with standardized medicine…

  • Zeno, excellent story, thanks for all the work you’re doing on this.

    Could I just ask, please include a small snippet of information in your article…the very (mostly gone unnoticed by many) fact that the majority of insurance groups *will most definitely NOT ever* cover any of these treatments, citing, “it’s experimental or unapproved, we do not cover this”. This of course, exceeds many people’s entire life savings just for an initial consult, then a month of treatment, then each month upwards of 20K for Burzynki’s useless “maintenance’ and useless ongoing treatment. Do a quick search for a few of the prior and unhappy patients. Of course, this doesn’t include the unknown number of patients who have died and will never have a chance to tell their story about how they dumped their life savings, went into debt for empty promises.

  • It’s quite interesting to see how Jim, who clearly states multiple times that he’s not a supporter of Burzynski’s work, repeatedly is being attacked in this thread as being a supporter and as if making non-critical condoning statements. He wasn’t he was asking the questions which needed to be answered to satisfaction to comprehensively bury Burzynski’s work. That is Skeptisism.
    Worst is no one actually apologised for what was brazen disregard for what it actually DID say in his postings. Doesn’t do much for the perception. Such a shame because otherwise it’s a good post. Thanks Zeno

  • That’s an interesting take on things, Stefaan. Having just read through every comment on this thread, I am wondering how you arrived at it.

    Let’s take your assertion that Jim “repeatedly is being attacked in this thread”. There have been no insults or ad hominems directed at Jim; he has simply been asked for links to the documentation that he claimed in his first post was available. Are you one of those who sees simply challenging a claim and asking for substantiation as an attack? If not, then please be specific and state which particular comment you think is an attack. Do you perceive my asking you to substantiate your claim as an attack too?

    Secondly, you state the reason for this “attack” is that Jim is perceived as “being a supporter and as if making non-critical condoning statements” even though he “clearly states multiple times that he’s not a supporter of Burzynski’s work”.

    I don’t think you’ve read Jim’s comments very carefully. He has posted nine comments here. In four of them he protests he is “not defending Burzynski”. Most of the rest are taken up with defending Burzynski. If I may draw your attention to what he actually says:

    1. He argues that SB has been the victim of various failed attempts to have him struck off or jailed. He repeats this argument several times throughout his posts, calls it a “vendetta” and suggests it is the reason SB has to charge so much to his customers. He even compares SB to a David who had slewn “numerous Goliaths against the odds”.

    As evidence – for want of a better word – in support of his view of SB as a hounded hero, he presents an uncritical summary of a film that only tells SB’s side of the story and on which professional but objective film reviewers have commented thus:

    “violates every basic rule of ethical filmmaking”
    “(the film’s producer) is either unusually credulous, or doesn’t understand the difference between a documentary and an advertisement”
    “paranoid conspiracy theory”
    “simplistic to the point of idiocy”
    “a puff-piece paean that cherrypicks facts and ignores any criticism”

    2. He claims that “there is a lot of documentation available on his success rates” but, in spite of repeated requests, fails to provide a link to any of it. The best he can come up with is a link to a bunch of articles which, by his own admission, he had just gone and looked up and none of which he’d actually read.

    He asserts that demanding to know the results of trials is “utterly futile” and “playing a game” and sneers that those who do this derive enjoyment from “congregating with other pious folk and banging on about things you can’t change”.

    Curiously, he suggests that the comments here are “outpourings” that lack sobrierty, even though all the posts directed at him are concise, to the point and not insulting in any way.

    3. He points out SB has satisfied patients and makes a lot of money and asks, “why would that be the case if there’s nothing in his treatment?” He sympathises with people who have incurable cancer but can’t afford the treatment, blaming this situation on the “vendetta” against SB.

    4. In spite of claiming more than once that the information available is too incomplete to make a judgement on, Jim repeatedly promotes SB’s side of the story. While doing so he fails to mention any of the blemishes on SB’s record, including the fact that he was found guilty of attempting to defraud a patient’s health insurance company. Jim claims to have read various (unspecified) debunkings and found them “laughable” and claims that Burzynski has “answers to his critics and a track record of court victories against them”. Without a trace of irony, he describes the medical professionals and scientists who have criticised SB as “very credulous, supposed medical professionals and scientists (who haven’t) applied even the slightest scientific rigour to an examination of the facts in this matter”.

    I’m not sure how you can see these comments as anything other than a defence of SB but perhaps, Stefaan, you’d care to tell me? From where I’m sitting, he seems to have fallen for SB’s story hook,line and sinker and believes anybody who hasn’t is “credulous”, “playing a game” and lacking scientific rigour. What has he said that makes you think differently (apart from his repeated protestations that he’s not defending SB, which you, in turn, appear to have taken at face value while disregarding the rest of what he says)?

    Thirdly, you say that there has been a “brazen disregard for what it actually DID say in his postings”. Really? Let’s have a look:

    I’ve already mentioned that, in response to his claim about there being lots of documented evidence of SB’s “success”, he was repeatedly asked for a link so you can’t say anybody disregarded that claim.

    As for the film and all the stuff it contains about David slewing the Goliaths, etc, he was helpfully provided with links to two articles giving critiques of the film, one of these by David Gorski, an oncologist, so that wasn’t disregarded either.

    (I was amused to see Jim accuse DG of “a lot of supposition” but while saying the information is too incomplete to make a judgement on, in spite of the fact that he has already made a judgement and offers a lot of supposition himself to explain SB’s high fees and lack of transparency.)

    Notably, Jim disappeared after DG’s second post which makes some very compelling points from a position of authority. I dare he feels a little embarrassed about some of the things he’s said about “supposed” medics and scientists lacking scientific rigour and about his general rudeness.

    His apologetic for SB’s high fees certainly wasn’t disregarded. Patricia made a very pertinent suggestion as to how SB could, if his treatment worked as well as he seems to think, behave more ethically and still get rich.

    So what exactly did he say that you think has been disregarded, Stefaan?

    Finally, you state that Jim was “asking the questions which needed to be answered to satisfaction to comprehensively bury Burzynski’s work”.

    Please give an example quoting directly from Jim’s comments. The only questions I see are ones that arise from his personal incredulity such as “Why would that be the case if there’s nothing in his treatment?” It seems that for Jim, the fact that SB continues to make a good living and attract patients in spite of legal challenges, is reason enough to believe there is ‘something’ in his treatment. The answer to the question of why he still attracts patients and makes a good living is so obvious that perhaps people thought Jim didn’t need an answer. (Seems they were wrong so @Jim: SB attracts customers because they are desperate and he offers them a tiny speck of hope. Got it now?)

    However, serious concerns have been raised and sound criticisms have been made of Burzynski. The questions that need to be answered to comprehensively bury Burzynski have indeed been raised, not by the likes of Jim but by dozen of skeptic bloggers like Andy Lewis, Rhys Morgan and David Gorski to name but three. On the Josephine Jones website (see first comment above) you will find links to over a hundred articles raising these very questions. Jim does not raise these questions and, in his defence of SB, makes no attempt to address any of them; furthermore, he claims to have found the articles he’s read raising these questions “laughable”.

    And yet, Stefaan, you call what Jim does “skepticism” and suggest he is owed an apology. Uncritical acceptance and promotion of one side of a story while failing to address well-supported arguments from the opposing side is not skepticism, Stefaan; it is the very opposite of skepticism and by making that judgement you give the impression, not for the first time, that you haven’t quite grasped what being skeptical actually means.

  • Informative blog post Zeno, but I agree with Stefan, it is spoiled a bit by the reactions of some of the ‘skeptic’ community in response to Jim who has openly stated he is not a defender.

    Skepticat for instance discussing, amongst other things, ethical film making and although I can just about see her point, it never fails to amaze me how many things she is real expert in?

    I also feel that the usual bloggers may be just jumping on the bandwagon in support of their circle of friends. This of course makes it look once again, like quite an orchestrated piece of work against any who may disagree with what and how they write.

  • Tzspence said, “Jim has openly stated he is not a defender”.

    And for Tzspence, just as for Stefaan, that is where the examination of the evidence begins and ends. The wealth of conflicting evidence can be ignored.

    What a perfect illustration of how quacks think. :-)

  • @skepticat

    I guess your definition of quack is: someone who has the audacity to disagree with life as you see it or offer any criticism of the same.

    But on a lighter note, Merry Christmas to you and Zeno

  • Running away already, Tz?

    No, my definition of a quack is someone who lines their pockets by selling scientifically unsupported therapies and who has too much invested in doing so to take the blinkers off and consider the counter-evidence they would prefer didn’t exist.

    Merry Christmas yourself.

  • An excellent piece today by David Gorski, which more than adequately answers Jim’s faith-based point that ‘there must be something in it’. I hope he can free himself from his ‘defend Burzynski at all costs’ mindset enough to understand it.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/12/what_dr_stanislaw_burzynski_doesnt_want.php

  • You’ve mention how the high cost of genetic testing is Incredible and inconceivable for us in UK… For your information, genetic testing you would pay in Oxford is £2.6k (this is on top of the funding they get from NHS), even if you have a personal history of cancer at young age and one close relative suffering the same. Not a single UK based private insurance company covers for genetic testing and this is paid by patients themselves.

  • New post from David Gorski entitled another Burzynski patient dies:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/03/another_burzynski_patient_dies.php

    Where are you now, Jim?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


× seven = 49

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>