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BBC Panorama investigates Stanislaw Burzynski

Last week, I reviewed a long-expected (and, to some extent, long-dreaded) documentary by Eric Merola, a filmmaker whose talent is inversely proportional to his yen for conspiracy, pseudoscience, and quackery. Through a quirk of fate that couldn’t have worked out better if I had planned it myself, a long-expected investigation of the Burzynski Clinic by the BBC aired on its venerable news program Panorama last Monday. It was entitled, appropriately enough, Cancer: Hope for Sale? Ever since learning that the BBC was working on this back in January or February, skeptics have been looking forward to it with a mixture of anticipation and dread, anticipation because we expected that the Panorama crew would “get it” (in the interests of full disclosure, I will mention that I was interviewed over the phone by a Panorama producer and exchanged e-mails to answer questions and suggestions), but a bit of dread because we feared the bane of all news reporting on issues of science and medicine: false balance.

So now that the report was finally aired, how was it? You can either watch it on iPlayer (if you’re in the UK) or on YouTube (if you’re not, assuming it’s still there):

Patients versus false balance, with regulatory issues missing

Although it’s better than the vast majority of reports on Burzynski that I’ve seen, I’m afraid it still ended up being a mixed bag. I’ll start with my general impression and then discuss some specifics that particularly stood out to me. Fortunately, there were parts of the report that hit home, and hit home hard. Unfortunately, every time I thought that Panorama was going in for the kill, the reporter (Richard Bilton) all too often seemed to back off. Perhaps it was the editing. From my interactions with a producer and reports I got from other skeptics who had similarly been contacted by the BBC, the team working on the report seemed to “get it,” which is why I can’t help but wonder if something got watered down in the final edit. Or perhaps it was the story structure imposed on this report, which was simultaneously a “he said, she said” portrait of a patient who believes in Burzynski and thinks he saved her, two Burzynski patients who died but whose families still express little or no regret over having decided to make the trip to Houston, and one patient who thinks Burzynski ripped him off. Interspersed with these stories was an overarching “where’s Waldo?” meta-story of Bilton trying to score an interview with the elusive subject of his report (whom he, predictably, gets to interview near the end of the report), all peppered with brief interviews with experts whose comments are generally critical but often softened with caveats that turn some of the criticisms into mush.

From my perspective, what is simultaneously the greatest strength and greatest weakness of this report is its relentless focus on patients. Specifically, the stories of four patients are covered: Hannah Bradley, Luna Petagine, Amelia Saunders, and Wayne Merritt. The first three patients were U.K. patients who travelled to Houston to be treated by Burzynski; Merritt lives in Georgia. This focus is a strength, because it provides an emotional hook upon which viewers can hang their attention, and, of course, the reason Stanislaw Burzynski’s activities are so harmful. However, this relentless focus is simultaneously a near-fatal weakness in that the obsessive focus on the patients seems to prevent the report from delving into a lot of issues that are also very important in any discussion of Stanislaw Burzynski. For instance, there was little or no mention of the recent FDA investigation of the Burzynski Clinic and the partial clinical hold placed on antineoplaston usage, zero mention of how Burzynski recently managed to beat an effort by the Texas Medical Board to strip him of his medical license by throwing his employed doctors under the bus, and only the most superficial treatment of how in general it is considered unethical to demand payment from patients to participate in clinical trials. Nor is there any mention of how the Burzynski Clinic waged a campaign of harassment against bloggers who criticized Burzynski back in 2011. Indeed, one of the victims of that harassment, Rhys Morgan, was interviewed by the Panorama crew, but he was informed that his interview was cut from the final version because it didn’t fit the narrative. There is even at least one howler in which Bilton intones that “nobody knows exactly what’s in his treatment,” when in fact it is fairly well known what antineoplastons are and has been for at least 25 years. All you have to do is to read Saul Green’s reports on Quackwatch and in The Cancer Letter from the 1990s.

Unfortunately, the story repeatedly falls prey to that weakness of first following this patient or patient’s family, then following that patient or patient’s family. Admittedly, the overall impression of Burzynski left behind is not favorable, but we don’t get a good overview of what he is doing and why it is so wrong, just what he did with respect to these four patients plus a little background. Of the patients, Luna Petagine’s and Amelia Saunders’ stories are the most heart-wrenching. Indeed, Luna’s story was featured last year on a BBC documentary about the Great Ormond Street Hospital, and some excerpts from this documentary are shown to introduce Luna and her story. One of them reminded me very much of the conversation with her NHS oncologist that Laura Hymas recorded and allowed Eric Merola to include in his propaganda piece, except that in video it is so much more intense. In this scene, the oncologist tries to point out to Ms. Petagine that he doesn’t know what Burzynski is doing or how to take care of her daughter when she returns. I really felt for this oncologist, too. However, this segment on Luna also highlights another irritating aspect of this report, which hit me over the head in the very next scene, when Ms. Petagine in essence lambastes the NHS oncologists because they couldn’t save her daughter’s life, saying, “The NHS told me Luna’s going to die. This man is telling me that he thinks he can cure her.”

The report includes interviews with experts like Professor Richard Grundy of Nottingham Children’s Hospital. Grundy points out that Burzynski has not published the complete results of any of his phase II clinical trials. Right after him is Professor Peter Johnson of Cancer Research U.K. discussing the importance of reproduction of results. Actually, this is one of the stronger segments in that it points out the importance of publishing scientific results in the medical literature and how that is the key to convincing other scientists of the validity of your work. That was very clear and concise. It’s also, unfortunately, simultaneously one of the weaker segments in that it ends up sounding as though there’s just no evidence and we don’t know about antineoplastons. In other words, it sounds as though they very well could work, if only the clinical trials were done. It’s a theme that is repeated throughout the report but that ignores the astounding level of sheer deception that goes on at the Burzynski Clinic, the allegations of overfilling, and how Burzynski has abused the clinical trial process to keep treating patients with antineoplastons without actually having to do the science that any other doctor would be required to do to validate a new treatment. True, not all the doctors who question Burzynski’s treatment are that wishy-washy. Dr. Elloise Garside, a research scientist, echoes a lot of the questions I have, such as why Burzynski never explains which genes are targeted by antineoplastons, what the preclinical evidence supporting their efficacy are, or what the scientific rationale is to expect that they might have antitumor activity. (Yes, we’re talking prior plausibility, baby!) This explanation was provided right after Bilton and she sat through a screening of the first Burzynski movie, which was a fairly nice touch.

None of this is to say that there weren’t aspects of the report that were very powerful and spot on. I just wish there were more of them or that more time had been allotted for them. For instance, there was the discussion of how Burzynski attracts new patients, which led to a trip to a screening of Eric Merola’s first foray into medical propaganda; i.e., his first movie in 2010 extolling the glory that to him is Stanislaw Burzynski. There’s even a sarcastic little rejoinder about how Burzynski takes his message to the movies rather than publishing in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Particularly amusing is how Panorama includes a scene from the first Burzynski movie in which Burzynski lambastes the panel evaluating him, saying how he will get his antineoplastons approved all over the world and bring them to justice, while promising the hundreds of patients who died because of them will come back to haunt them until their deaths.

Yeah, Stan’s as warm and fuzzy as ever.

Panorama also confirms what skeptics have suspected for a long time now, namely that the Burzynski movie has been very, very effective in attracting patients to the Burzynski Clinic. During an interview with Hannah Bradley, whom we’ve met before. There’s no real evidence that Burzynski’s treatment is responsible for Bradley’s good fortune in having lived more than two years with her cancer thus far, but she attributes her survival to him. Unfortunately, she is also incorrect when she says that there’s no evidence that antineoplastons work or that they don’t work. The preponderance of evidence supports the contention that they don’t work, but there is uncertainty, which Burzynski exploits to the max. In any case, as lovely a young woman as I think Ms. Bradley is, the whole segment is painful to watch, as she asks ignorant questions like, “What says radiotherapy works?” When the reporter points out that the peer-reviewed literature says it works, Ms. Bradley says, “But not for everyone,” which is technically true but ignores that there isn’t any evidence comparable to that for radiotherapy that antineoplastons work for anyone. As much as I like Hannah Bradley and her boyfriend Pete Cohen and hope Hannah continues to do well, I can’t let such statements go unchallenged.

Ironically, I can’t help but note that Pete Cohen also showed up on the radio to be interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 Live (at around the 1:44 mark). I can’t help but mention it here, because Mr. Cohen gives away several interesting tidbits. For instance, it’s very obvious that the Burzynski Clinic is in communication with him, because Mr. Cohen claims that Burzynski is preparing manuscripts for publication and that he has even submitted several to “top journals.” He even claims that Burzynski has asked that they be independently reviewed. In doing so, Cohen echoes the claims in some of the Q&A’s after screenings of Eric Merola’s most recent movie that Burzynski’s papers have been rejected without being sent out for peer review. It’s also not exactly clear what Cohen means by that. Studies submitted to journals won’t be published without going out for peer-review. Maybe he’s referring to some of the papers we’ve heard about from Mr. Cohen and others that were editorially rejected and not even sent out for peer review because the editor either didn’t think them appropriate or didn’t want to waste the reviewers’ time. Mr. Cohen also repeatedly says how he has approached experts in brain cancer and begged them to come out to the Burzynski Clinic to “see for themselves.” Seemingly, he can’t understand that it is not necessary for a scientist or doctor to meet Dr. Burzynski or visit his clinic. It means nothing. Nada. Zero. Zip. In science, all that matters is what you publish, and Burzynski hasn’t published anything other than case reports, tiny case series, and unconvincing studies, mostly (at least over the last decade or so) in crappy journals not even indexed on PubMed.

Without a doubt, the most effective part of the story is the segment in which Dr. Jeanine Graf of the Texas Children’s Hospital is introduced. Dr. Graf is the director of the pediatric intensive care unit there and has taken care of lots of Burzynski patients, as her hospital is “just down the road” from the Burzynski Clinic and these unfortunate children are brought to her hospital when they decompensate. Indeed, coupled with this segment is an interlude where Luna Petagine’s mother complains that the staff there know and recognize Burzynski patients (and, she notes, hate the Burzynski Clinic). Particularly damning is how Ms. Petagine said that the Texas Children’s Hospital Staff “were always cleaning up Burzynski’s messes.” Luna was brought to the Texas Children’s Hospital during her time in Houston, and the staff there recognized right away that she was a Burzynski patient because they had seen so many similar patients suffering the same complications before. It was also clear how much contempt the staff there had for the Burzynski Clinic. If there’s one thing Panorama did right in this report, it’s showing how seeing so many already-dying children show up in their ICU because of hypernatremia due to antineoplaston therapy will do that. Perhaps the most devastating part of this segment was seeing Dr. Graf stating, point blank, that she’s never seen a Burzynski patient survive. True, she does point out that patients don’t come to her until they are in extremis, but the fact remains that she’s never seen any of them live.

It’s a sad and devastating segment.

Unfortunately, during the most critical part of the story of all, in which Bilton finally “finds Waldo” and is granted an audience with Stanislaw Burzynski, Bilton came across (to me, at least) as unprepared. Fortunately for Bilton, Burzynski was, as is so often the case, his own worst enemy, smirking and behaving in his usual arrogant, dismissive manner to any sort of challenge. (You can see a sample of it here, towards the end of the promo.) If Burzynski were a bit less full of himself and the greatness that he thinks he possesses, he could have wiped the floor with Bilton. As it is, the interview was pretty much a draw. Burzynski claims that antineoplastons can cure cancer, but not for everyone. Burzynski smirks when asked how many patients he’s treated and how many have survived, dodging the question by saying that the FDA won’t let him until he’s published his results. Bilton tells him that’s not true; the FDA has told him that Burzynski can tell him as long as he doesn’t promote antineoplastons. Burzynski asks Bilton why he doesn’t have a letter from the FDA. Burzynski dismisses Bilton with retorts like:

You look like a bright man but you’re asking me the same question again and again. Are you catching Alzheimer’s disease or what?

As I said, Burzynski’s arrogance, dismissiveness, and condescension make him his own worst enemy. Bilton was very, very lucky.

Burzynski also pulls out the old trope that, the FDA wouldn’t have let him use antineoplastons for 20 years in clinical trials if they weren’t safe and potentially effective, that the FDA wouldn’t let him “sell hope without evidence.” (Those of us following Burzynski for a while know, unfortunately, that that isn’t necessarily true.) Burzynski then promises that antineoplastons will be approved “soon” (they almost certainly won’t), after which he goes on to repeat the same refrain he’s been repeating for the last decade or so about how he’s on the verge of publishing all the results that will convince everyone. “Just you wait,” Burzynski is saying, in effect, “I’ll show them. I’ll show them all!”

One notes that we’re still waiting.

Ultimately, the Burzynski Clinic did release some results, stating that 776 patients with brain tumors were treated in trials and that 15.5% have survived five years. Of course, this is an utterly meaningless factoid (if factual it even is), because we don’t know what kinds of tumors, what grades, how they were treated beforehand, or any other confounding factors. Burzynski needs to publish, but I highly doubt that he will, at least not in a form that is informative to real oncologists.

Overall, the producers of Panorama did a decent, but flawed job of taking on Burzynski. Part of the problem might have been that a half hour is just too short. It’s really difficult to explain 36 years of history and the ins and outs of Burzynski’s battles with the law and patients in just a half hour; so apparently Panorama didn’t even try. That left it asking the question at the beginning of how Burzynski has gotten away with this for so long but not really even trying to give an answer at the end. It also might be that expectations were too high in the skeptic community, myself included. While I can understand the decision to concentrate on patients as the center of the story, the problem with that decision is that it’s a well-trod path that crowds out too many other important issues that ended up getting short (or, far more commonly, no) shrift in this Panorama episode. In the end, Panorama played it safe, and its report ended up being fairly unoriginal and guaranteed not to be the definitive look at Burzynski. It’s a very good thing that Panorama decided to shine a light into the recesses of the Burzynski Clinic, but at best it’s a first, flawed step. As good as much of this episode is, some of it is not, and I fear that an opportunity has been lost.

Stanislaw Burzynski against his own SEC filings

A lot of things happened last week with respect to Stanislaw Burzynski. In addition to Eric Merola releasing his documentary and Panorama finally airing its report, it was pointed out to me by a number of readers that there was new information to be had in Burzynski’s most recent SEC filings for the Burzynski Research Institute. The reason this is important is that it provides us with information against which we can compare Burzynski’s claims in both Merola’s movie and the Panorama report. Part of what inspired me to look into this was Josephine Jones openly asking whether Burzynski lied to the BBC. Regular followers of the Burzynski saga will remember that in January the FDA showed up at Burzynski’s operations to investigate. As Merola likes to harp on, FDA investigators stayed until March. Currently we are awaiting the FDA’s decision, which is usually posted to the FDA website in the form of a formal letter. In any case, the reason this is relevant is because the FDA put a clinical hold on antineoplastons and barred the enrollment of any new patients in any of Burzynski’s protocols. Moreover, in response to a warning letter from the FDA last fall about promoting an unapproved drug, in January the Burzynski Clinic removed all references to antineoplaston therapy on its website, which is rather like Major League Baseball removing all references to, well, baseball on its website.

To recap, we know that last year a child suffered a severe adverse reaction to antineoplaston therapy, which led to the FDA putting a clinical hold on antineoplastons for children. Then, in January apparently, the clinical hold was placed on antineoplastons for adults as well, although apparently patients already receiving them could continue to do so. Actually, I wondered about that when I saw a rather fascinating part of the Panorama report, namely a tour of Burzynski’s manufacturing facility, which, we are told, can crank out 300 L of antineoplaston solution per day.

Which brings us to the Burzynski Research Institute SEC report, something that Josephine Jones touches on as well. Throughout Eric Merola’s infomercial for Burzynski and the BBC Panorama report, we are told by Burzynski, his acolytes, and his shills that antineoplastons will be approved by the FDA “soon,” that he’s been doing the trials to gain FDA approval over the last 15 or 20 years, and, oh, by the way, not to worry. We have been promised repeatedly that all those phase II clinical trials that Burzynski registered will similarly be published “soon.” Even Pete Cohen, Hannah Bradley’s partner, showed up on BBC Radio 5 promising that Burzynski is furiously submitting manuscripts for publication. But what’s really happening?

Josephine Jones points us to this recent SEC report for the Burzynski Research Institute for the fiscal year ending February 28, suggesting that we read the section entitled Partial Clinical Hold on Phase II and Phase III Clinical Trials. So I did. Now I’m not a businessman, and I don’t understand anything but the very basics of business. A lot of these SEC reports might as well be Greek to me, but I do know cancer science. I also know what Burzynski and his acolytes have been saying, one of which is that the phase III trial will probably never be done because it’s “too expensive.” Yet in the report, we read:

On February 23, 2010, the Company entered into an agreement with Cycle Solutions, Inc., dba ResearchPoint (“Research Point”) to initiate and manage a pivotal Phase III clinical trial of combination Antineoplastons A10 and AS2-1 plus radiation therapy (RT) in patients with newly-diagnosed, diffuse, intrinsic brainstem glioma. Research Point has secured interest and commitments from a number of sites selected. Upon completion of this assessment, a randomized, international Phase III study will commence. The study’s objective is to compare overall survival of children with newly-diagnosed, diffuse, intrinsic brainstem glioma (DBSG) who receive combination Antineoplastons A10 and AS2-1 plus RT versus RT alone.

Three years should be plenty of time to line up clinical sites for a phase III trial. Of course, given that after three years the clinical trial hasn’t been opened, more than likely no reputable institution wants to partner with the Burzynski Research Institute, and ResearchPoint collected its checks. Then came the partial clinical hold, which affected this phase III trial as well as all the phase II trials, and, fortunately for patients, Burzynski’s antineoplaston operation is shut down. Revealed in the SEC report, of all places, is why.

It’s a long excerpt, but I think it’s important. There’s a lot of legalese and FDA bureau-speak, but the meaning should be fairly clear to a layperson:

In a letter dated June 25, 2012, the Company informed the FDA of a serious adverse event which may have been related to the administration of Antineoplastons. On July 30, 2012, the FDA placed a partial clinical hold for enrollment of new pediatric patients under single patient protocols or in any of the active Phase II or Phase III studies under IND 43,742. The FDA imposed this partial clinical hold because, according to the FDA, insufficient information had been submitted by the Company to allow the FDA to determine whether the potential patient benefit justifies the potential risks of treatment use, and that the potential risks are not unreasonable in the context of the disease or condition to be treated. The FDA cited 21 C.F.R. § 312.42(b)(2)(i), 21 C.F.R. § 312.42(b)(1(iv), and 21 C.F.R. § 312.42(b)(3)(i), as grounds for imposition of a clinical hold; and 21 C.F.R. § 312.305(a)(2), a criteria for expanded access use. The FDA advised the Company that until it resolved the matter to FDA’s satisfaction, the Company could not enroll new pediatric patients in any protocol under such IND. The Company later notified the FDA in a September 24, 2012 letter that it was closing pediatric protocol BT-10 (under IND 43,742) for enrollment effective September 25, 2012, and that it would also terminate the protocol once all active patients had completed the study.

In other words, no more antineoplastons for children, not now, and, hopefully, not ever. Burzynski can continue to treat children on his protocols who had already started treatment, but that’s it. This is very good news. After all, the Burzynski Research Institute is shutting down the pediatric protocol.

This ultimately led to the partial clinical hold being extended to adults:

In a teleconference on January 9, 2013 between the FDA and the Company, followed by a letter of the same date, the FDA notified the Company that the agency was placing IND [investigational new drug application] 43,742 on partial clinical hold, due to a lack of a complete response to the issues raised by the FDA and what the FDA deemed a misleading, erroneous, and incomplete investigator brochure. The FDA cited 21 C.F.R. § 312.42(b)(2)(i) and 21 C.F.R. § 312.42(b)(1)(iii), as grounds for imposition of a clinical hold. The FDA further advised the Company that until it resolved the matter to the FDA’s satisfaction, that the Company could not enroll new adult or pediatric patients in any protocol under such IND. The FDA also placed protocols B-52 and B-54 on clinical hold due to what the FDA deemed to be an unreasonable and significant risk of illness or injury to human subjects. The FDA cited 21 C.F.R. § 312.42(b)(2)(i) and 21 C.F.R.§ 312.42(B)(1)(i), as grounds for imposition of a clinical hold. The FDA advised the Company that until it resolved the matter to FDA’s satisfaction, the Company could not legally conduct the identified clinical studies under such IND.

In a letter dated April 9, 2013, the Company responded to the issues raised by the FDA in its January 9, 2013 letter to the Company. In a letter dated May 9, 2013 from the FDA, the FDA advised the Company that the Company’s April 9, 2013 letter was not a complete response to all the issues listed in the FDA’s letter dated January 9, 2013, and the FDA also identified the issues that were not fully addressed by the Company’s response. The FDA further advised the Company that until it satisfactorily addressed all the issues in the FDA’s letter dated January 9, 2013, that the FDA could not complete its review, and the clinical hold could not be removed.

So basically, the FDA extended its clinical hold; the Burzynski Research Institute answered the FDA’s charges; and the FDA was not satisfied. Until the Burzynski Research Institute can adequately address those concerns, there will be no new patients enrolled. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that no new patients ever will be enrolled because maybe, just maybe, the FDA is finally cracking down on Burzynski for real. At least, that’s what I hope. I’m all too aware that it looked just as bad for Burzynski in the 1990s, which was the last time the FDA made a serious run at the Burzynski Research Institute, and Burzynski managed to slither away to come back bigger and stronger than ever. Even so, Burzynski’s own SEC filings suggest that all the bold talk of imminent approval of antineoplastons by the FDA and publication of the papers that will prove to the world that antineoplastons work are pipe dreams, stories to keep the marks on board and hoping. Indeed, even the report seems to concede that antineoplastons will likely never be approved, even going so far as to point out that “the Company cannot predict if and/or when it will submit an NDA [New Drug Application] to the FDA, nor can the Company estimate the number or type of additional trials the FDA may require.” Burzynski also warns:

Notwithstanding the response results of the trials that have reached a Milestone, management believes it is likely that the FDA may require additional clinical trials based upon such protocols to be conducted by an institution not affiliated with the Company or Dr. Burzynski before advising that an NDA filing is warranted. In addition, the FDA has indicated it will not accept the efficacy data, but will accept toxicity data generated by the Phase II study according to Protocol CAN-1 because the trial was partially retrospective. At this time, the Company cannot predict if and/or when it will submit an NDA to the FDA, nor can the Company estimate the number or type of additional trials the FDA may require. Further, there can be no assurance that an NDA for antineoplastons, as a treatment for cancer, will ever be approved by the FDA.

No assurance can be given that any new IND for clinical tests on humans will be approved by the FDA for human clinical trials on cancer or other diseases, that the results of such human clinical trials will prove that antineoplastons are safe or effective in the treatment of cancer or other diseases, or that the FDA would approve the sale of antineoplastons in the United States.

That hardly sounds as though antineoplastons will be approved “soon.” After all, the Burzynski Research Institute’s own SEC filing states that an NDA hasn’t even been submitted and that it can’t be predicted when an NDA will be filed. Presumably if Burzynski were truly on the verge of getting antineoplastons approved by the FDA he would have said so in his SEC filing. That’s why his SEC filings are so revealing. Burzynski can distort and exaggerate when speaking to the public, but lying on an SEC filing could carry potentially serious consequences.

Another interesting tidbit in the SEC filing is Burzynski’s report of the results of several of his clinical trials. They aren’t really “results’ per se, in that the information presented really isn’t provided in a form that really allows other investigators to evaluate it and potentially replicate it. Basically it’s a big table listing Burzynski Research Institute clinical trials and response rates reported. One thing that I noticed right away is that in most trials, the number of evaluable patients is smaller, sometimes much smaller, than the number of patients accrued. This is a huge red flag. For instance, in trial BT-20, there were 40 patients accrued by only 22 were evaluable. This sort of dropout rate is a huge red flag. We don’t know the reasons for this dropout rate. It could certainly skew the results, but even that’s impossible to tell from just a table of response rates and no further information. Of course, I realize that this is an SEC filing, not a scientific paper in the peer-reviewed literature, but if Burzynski has all this data to produce this table it boggles the mind that, given at least a decade and a half since these trials began, he hasn’t been able to publish any meaningful data thus far. That he hasn’t been able to do so is also a big red flag.

One can’t help but wonder why BBC Panorama didn’t look at this information. It could easily have fit into the narrative. Imagine a more prepared reporter, faced with the confident and sarcastic bloviation from Burzynski that antineoplastons will be approved “soon,” pulling out Burzynski’s own SEC filings and telling him that that’s not what he said in those filings. I can only imagine two reasons Bilton didn’t do that: The report wasn’t out when the interview occurred (which is possible, given the mentions of a date in early May) or lack of preparation. If it were the former situation, a more prepared reporter could have hammered Burzynski on how he could possibly say so confidently that antineoplastons were going to be approved “soon” with partial clinical holds by the FDA on children since the fall of 2012 and on adults since January 2013. These are hardly the sorts of issues that suggest imminent approval, contrary to Burzynski’s statements, which now must be viewed, in my opinion, as outright lies. Indeed, even if the SEC filing wasn’t published yet at the time this interview took place, imagine a voiceover tacked on after Burzynski’s statement pointing out that his own SEC filings contradicted his assertions. Moreover, bringing up these issues would arguably have fit into the narrative perfectly to point out that Burzynski is still promoting antineoplastons through surrogates by saying that FDA approval is imminent when, according to his SEC filing, he apparently hasn’t even filed an NDA yet. As much as the BBC got right in its coverage of Burzynski, aspects of its Panorama episode on Burzynski were pure frustration to those of us who have been following Burzynski for a while.

I wonder if Brian Deer would be interested in looking into the Burzynski Clinic and the Burzynski Research Institute.

Posted in: Cancer, Clinical Trials, Science and the Media

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43 thoughts on “BBC Panorama investigates Stanislaw Burzynski

  1. In the interviews with parents of the patients it becomes very clear why people choose Burzynski – he’s the only person who offered them some hope while conventional oncology offered them to wait while the child dies.

    This is a failure of oncology counselling. Why were these patients not offered participation in the many ongoing clinical trials for brain tumors?

    The BBC program is a free advertisement for the Burzynski clinic. Gorski might find it balanced, but a cancer patient watching this program will hear one thing only – someone in Texas is offering a cure for his kids cancer.

  2. elburto says:

    A cure? Well I suppose if you’re dead then cancer’s no longer a problem. So
    yeah then, Count Scamula’s curing them. Of life.

  3. mdcatdad says:

    The disadvantages of an oncologist’s honesty in the face of Burzynski’s feel-good patter is encapsulated in this exchange I read years ago between Polish (presumably atheist) Communist leaders observing a Catholic funeral: “They have an advantage over us: they can promise their people eternal life. All we can do is wave goodbye”.

  4. goodnightirene says:

    Someone in Texas is offering them FALSE hope. Big difference.

  5. ConspicuousCarl says:

    I felt like doing an eye roll when he asked “how many were treated and how many survived”. He reduced it to asserting that the issue was one fraction as if he were busting someone over an oil change coupon. Then Burzynski can dodge the larger issue simply by answering the question.

  6. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    In the interviews with parents of the patients it becomes very clear why people choose Burzynski – he’s the only person who offered them some hope while conventional oncology offered them to wait while the child dies.

    This is a failure of oncology counselling. Why were these patients not offered participation in the many ongoing clinical trials for brain tumors?

    I’m astonished that you don’t see this as a failure of the FDA and Texas Medical Board to undertake appropriate enforcement. I’m astonished you don’t see this as a failure of Burzynski’s ethics. But go ahead, blame the medical system because they’re being honest. An honest assessment of antineoplastons is indeed “we don’t know if it works”. An oncologist, confronted by a grieving and scared parent, would probably be reluctant to go into the reasoning why piss extracts wouldn’t necessarily help cancer patients, if they were sufficiently familiar with Burzynski’s methods in the first place. I’m rather disgusted that you’re willing to pretend there’s something here other than Burzynski harvesting cash from families unlucky enough to have a child with cancer.

    Of course, as a naturopath or homeopath, you are also enabled in your practice by the FDA’s failure to undertake effective enforcement action, so I could see why you are ignoring ethics and undertaking special pleading for Burzynski. The enemy of your enemy is your friend after all.

    Would you be wiling to watch Pfizer or GlaxoSmithKline “offer them some hope”?

    The BBC program is a free advertisement for the Burzynski clinic. Gorski might find it balanced, but a cancer patient watching this program will hear one thing only – someone in Texas is offering a cure for his kids cancer.

    Did you miss the part where he talked about how flawed Panorama’s approach was? Did you miss all the criticisms of where Burzynski was allowed to slither away? I suppose acknowledging that part of Dr. Gorski’s narrative would require you to admit that Dr. Gorski has a point, which rather seems your true purpose here.

  7. David Gorski says:

    An honest assessment of antineoplastons is indeed “we don’t know if it works.”

    I’d slightly disagree with that to say that an honest assessment of antineoplastons is that we don’t know if they work but that existing evidence suggests that they probably do not and certainly doesn’t support the claims of “miracle cures” touted by Stanislaw Burzynski and Eric Merola.

  8. David Gorski says:

    Did you miss the part where he talked about how flawed Panorama’s approach was?

    Don’t get me wrong. I thought the Panorama report was pretty good. The problem is that it could have been so much better if the producers hadn’t decided to hew so closely to the human interest aspect of the story to the exclusion of a lot of substantive information. Maybe they couldn’t think of a way to do it in only a half hour, in which case I really wish the show had been a full hour in length. It rather makes me wonder if Stan and his crew issued some legal threats, particularly in light of how the story was originally supposed to air in April but ended up not airing until early June. That’s just speculation on my part, but one wonders.

  9. wolf 10 says:

    Apologies if this is a bit off-topic to the main points you’ve raised.

    “in general it is considered unethical to demand payment from patients to participate in clinical trials.”

    Welcome to the world of those diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A current clinical trial of Ampligen in the U.S. requires patients to pay for the drug, about $20K per year.

    A clinical trial of Rituxan is being conducted in Norway. The funding arrangement there is a bit murky. Depending on the source, the Norwegian government is bearing none or some fraction of the cost. The drug company, La Roche in Europe, Genentech in the U.S., has expressed no interest in funding such trials. Patient-advocates have raised some money largely through online appeals.

    Again, at one’s own expense, one can receive off-label Rituxan treatment for CFS from Dr. Kogelnik in Mountain View, CA, who was the subject of of Harriet Hall’s recent posts here: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/rituximab-for-chronic-fatigue-syndrome-jumping-the-g/

  10. Narad says:

    Welcome to the world of those diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. A current clinical trial of Ampligen in the U.S. requires patients to pay for the drug, about $20K per year.

    One of the questions to hand seems to be whether Burzynski is engaging in a bit more than FDA-authorized cost recovery.

  11. wolf 10 says:

    Narad: “One of the questions to hand seems to be whether Burzynski is engaging in a bit more than FDA-authorized cost recovery.”

    Agreed, there is much more to the Burzynski issue than the point I raised.

    I’m not in the medical field and have researching my options as a patient. Therefore the distinction between “FDA-authorized cost recovery” and the statement that “in general it is considered unethical to demand payment from patients to participate in clinical trials” is something about which I need to learn more.

  12. wolf 10 says:

    Narad:

    Found the FDA-authorized cost recovery provision:

    (iii) Demonstrate that the clinical trial could not be conducted without charging because the cost of the drug is extraordinary to the sponsor. The cost may be extraordinary due to manufacturing complexity, scarcity of a natural resource, the large quantity of drug needed (e.g., due to the size or duration of the trial), or some combination of these or other extraordinary circumstances (e.g., resources available to a sponsor).
    http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=312.8

    Thanks for helping me gain a better grasp of the issue.

  13. drspacemonkey says:

    This is a test comment, please ignore me!

  14. @wolf10:

    Chronic Fatigue is a symptom not a disease. Silent viral and bacterial infections are often the origin of the problem. It often comes accompanied with fibromyalgia (muscle pains). Hypothyroidism and diabetes can exacerbate it. Ampligen is a load of allopathic quackery that does nothing useful. I wouldnt pay a cent for it.

    I dont know enough about your condition to make recommendations but start with this primer on role of infections in CFS.

    @David Gorski

    “I thought the Panorama report was pretty good.”
    It was good. Balanced. However when dealing with viewing material for cancer patients, any publicity is good publicity. They’ll grab whatever piece of hope they can get.

    The delay in publication of the program was to secure the interview with Burzynski. He didnt grant one at first until they negotiated some conditions.

  15. pmoran says:

    The mother of the Saunders child put her finger on a key matter. When discussing his claim of 56% good results with brain tumours she said something like: “it’s would be more like 1%”.

    We can be sure about this order of “effect’, if that is what it is. We know that he must have treated thousands of patients over the last few decades, yet a mere handful (or less?) of patients are known to have lived on, cancer-free, as the result of his treatment of cases with reasonably definite active cancer. There is no question we would have heard all about them if he had other cases, also if he had better cases in terms of the documentation of active cancer, which is a weakness of some of his case histories.

    With such small numbers of apparently good outcomes it is difficult to be certain what is going on. The diagnosis, staging and prognosis of cancer that doctors have to work with (especially with brain cancer), is probably not accurate to this degree of precision. Such numbers are consistent with no useful effect.

    This explains why we don’t ever see the results of all his supposed Stage ll studies. No costly cancer quack is going to advertise that that nearly all of his patients end up dying of their disease. With the data we have access to we can be reasonably certain that this is the case with Burzynski.

    The ball is firmly in his court if he thinks he can prove otherwise.

  16. David Gorski says:

    The delay in publication of the program was to secure the interview with Burzynski. He didnt grant one at first until they negotiated some conditions.

    Actually, the circumstances of how that interview came about are very interesting, but I probably can’t divulge them. (Never mind how I know.) In any case, I also know that that interview happened at least a couple of months ago. So, no, the delay wasn’t due to finagling with Burzynski for an interview.

  17. windriven says:

    “The problem is that it could have been so much better if the producers hadn’t decided to hew so closely to the human interest aspect of the story to the exclusion of a lot of substantive information.”

    With all due respect, let’s not forget that this is a general interest program. The human interst aspect is one of the elements that attract viewers. The issue isn’t, in my mind, the human interest aspect but that the human interst aspect was misplaced. A much better approach would have been to follow a family that scraped up the money, traveled long distances, put their faith, hope and hard earned cash into the hands of a messianic quack and didn’t have enough left for a decent cremation.

    It’s OK to pluck heart strings so long as the tune is based in reality.

  18. Therion2012 says:

    I really DO wonder what Burzynski would do, was he diagnosed with cancer.
    The one doctor said she thought that Burzynski believes in his crap, but I believe he may be well aware of its inefficacy.
    And I think he would cut the crap and value his life more than money and just do regular treatment, while maybe pretending to use some antineo-crap-tans.

  19. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Chronic Fatigue is a symptom not a disease. Silent viral and bacterial infections are often the origin of the problem. It often comes accompanied with fibromyalgia (muscle pains). Hypothyroidism and diabetes can exacerbate it. Ampligen is a load of allopathic quackery that does nothing useful. I wouldnt pay a cent for it.

    I dont know enough about your condition to make recommendations but start with this primer on role of infections in CFS.

    That kind of false confidence is yet another indication of the difference between quacks and a good doctor. We don’t know what causes CFS. It could be biological. It could be psychogenic. Given the nonspecificity of the symptoms and diagnosis, CFS is in reality a host of different things gathered together – missed diagnoses, psychogenic fatigue, unknown diseases and infections, simple aging and who knows what. It would be lovely if we knew what caused CFS and had reliable treatments for each type, but the reality is we don’t and all the doctors and quacks pretending at certainty are not helping their patients do anything but divest themselves of funds.

    CFS patients desperately want it to be caused by something biological, an infectious vector, because they think psychogenic causes (i.e. a variant of mental illness) makes them look stupid and weak. It’s a variation of society’s general dislike and distrust of mental illness, which is truly unfortunate.

    FBA, your certainty isn’t helping anyone. Try being humble and simply admit you don’t know. A 2002 primary study on 200 patients that hasn’t been replicated, extended and widely accepted is not a definitive answer. Genuine experts will cite more than single studies; genuine experts must admit what they don’t know, and take in more of the scientific literature than what confirms existing prejudices.

  20. wjhopper says:

    Considering the large contingent of British patients the Burzynski Clinic make money from, you would feel they would have the decency to fly the Union Jack flag the right way up!!! (21:15 of the Panorama programme.)

  21. ConspicuousCarl says:

    Speaking of premature confidence, how about the word “antineoplaston” itself? Burzynski basically named the stuff a cure for cancer.

  22. docvoltage says:

    I attended the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology when the Burzynski team had an abstract with preliminary results of an ongoing Phase II trial in recurrent glioma, OT-15 [Neuro Oncol (2010) 12 (suppl 4): iv69-iv78.] It was pretty obvious that (a) there was nothing new, and (b) the data were presented less than artfully. However, to hear them present the poster, you’d have thought they’d found the Holy Grail filled with 20 lbs of Unobtainium. Given the amount of well-designed science presented at the meeting, it was a head-scratcher how that one got accepted. But somebody has to take the pimply kid with braces to the prom, I suppose.

    Incidentally, none of my patients who have gone to Burzynski came back cured. Some came back dead. All came back poorer, because he repeated every single scan and test they had elsewhere a few days prior. Technical revenue? Sigh…

  23. BrewandFerment says:

    Wolf 10, WLU:

    Re fibromyalgia, here’s a link to an article describing some intriguing findings by Albany Medical College that has been published in Pain Medicine:

    http://www.timesunion.com/default/article/Cure-for-painful-malady-is-closer-4588068.php

    that describes a mechanism due to disfunctional arteriole-venule shunts.

  24. wolf 10 says:

    To all who have responded re CFS:

    Thank you for your remarks and suggestions. I would like to continue but am uncertain as to what common courtesy and this site’s policies on off-topic threads might allow. I hope there will be more postings specifically regarding CFS. If the response to Harriet Hall’s “Jumping the Gun” post is any indication, there is considerable interest and, although not a professional scientist myself, I am most interested in scientifically sound input.

  25. David Gorski says:

    I attended the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuro-Oncology when the Burzynski team had an abstract with preliminary results of an ongoing Phase II trial in recurrent glioma, OT-15 [Neuro Oncol (2010) 12 (suppl 4): iv69-iv78.]

    Out of curiosity, who presented the poster? Was it Stan the Man himself? Or one of his lackeys? :-)

    1. docvoltage says:

      A lackey. ‘Twas ever thus !

  26. David Gorski says:

    Do you remember which lackey? :-)

    1. docvoltage says:

      Gosh no. There were many more and interesting abstracts, as well as a modicum of red wine.

      1. @GregABedard says:

        “a modicum of red wine”.
        Is this your lame attempt at humour or your admission of your alcoholism?

        1. docvoltage says:

          Neither. Simply a factual statement.

          Also, your question makes little sense, considering the definition of “modicum”.

  27. Dee Dee says:

    It was interesting to see how you choose to ignore things like Luna’s mother saying her daughter had an extra year – and the other people who did survive. Your journalism is sadly slanted and therefore you in someways are responsible for perhaps a life that could have been saved, but wasn’t as well as saving people from going to the clinic who would not have benefited. The bottom line is that it did benefit some and other’s not. I don’t know why you couldn’t have been truly fair with this report. My guess is that you probably needed more drama for it to be interesting.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      An extra year compared to what? Let’s not forget that often chemotherapy is not meant to be curative, merely palliative or to prolong life. Also don’t forget that Burzynski gives enormous doses of chemotherapy to his patients, as well as piss extracts. And finally, let’s not forget that some people spontaneously regress. The problem with Burzynski is a combination of all three of these things – he claims to have better success results because he gives “personalized” chemotherapy, but he doesn’t adequately track any of this (plus charging huge fees for the privilege of getting more chemo than you would in a real hospital). His “great successes” are dubious, because we don’t know how long his patients would have survived given conventional (less toxic, lower dose) care.

      It’s hardly surprising that some patients did well – they’re getting chemotherapy. But they’re not getting the alluded to (but never written down) promises of cures, and they’re charged an order of magnitude more than what they would have to pay if they went to a regular hospital.

      But Dee Dee, I have a question for you – if Burzynski’s treatments are so great, how can you defend him? By failing to properly research and publish his “clinical trials”, he’s failing to prove that his methods work. If they actually work, then they could be adopted by oncologists the world over. If Burzynski has an actual “cure for cancer”, then he is selfishly keeping in one place, where he can charge exorbitant amounts of money, rather than providing the medical system another weapon in its war against cancer? If he improved survival rates by even as little as 10%, he might save perhaps a dozen extra people every year. If he published in peer-reviewed journals, that 10% would mean thousands of people throughout the world every year! But he doesn’t. He never closes his clinical trials, he never reports his results. He just keeps starting new trials, enrolling patients and charging them tens of thousands of dollars for high-dose chemotherapy.

      It is unethical no matter how you see it – either he is charging patients for ineffective treatments, or he is charging them for effective treatments that offer no advantage over conventional care (but significantly greater side effects because the dose is so high), or he is charging them for more effective care that nobody else uses because there is no proof that it works. Treatment before proof is inherently unethical.

  28. Ivan georgiev says:

    Wow, after reading all of these comments I start to beleive that noone here is interested in finding the two sides of the story. Even in the documentary, BBC only included interviews with doctors who, either had little to no knowledge of the antineoplaston theraphy, or just totally rejected Dr Burzynski methods. When someone is telling me a story,I would like to hear both sides and decide for myself what the truth is,and don’t like being pushed into one sided argument. I have seen both Burzynski movies and even tho I agree ,that there is little information on the procces by which this method works, I believe in providing a choice. If I was terminaly ill, would it be better to just lie down and wait to die, or perhaps look for alternetives? There is nothing wrong with providing hope, and if the numbers from Panorama report of successfully treated patients is true, then this is a success for me. Is it wrong to charge £100.000 for a treatment?….maybe,but what is your life worth to you?
    In a lot of cases, people who undergo chemotheraphy and radiatheraphy, get rejected farther treatment because it costs a lot of money to the insurance company, or just get a huge bill ,they have no way of paying.
    In any case well being is more important than money, and regarless on which way we decide to turn, our first priority is to survive.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Wow, after reading all of these comments I start to beleive that noone here is interested in finding the two sides of the story.

      Your comment assumes there are two sides to the story. That Burzynski is somehow doing something innovative. That he’s offering some sort of unique service. This fails for two reasons: first, he’s givng his patients high-dose chemotherapy (at inflated prices); second, the only “unique” part to what he does is his piss extract antineoplastons – which he has never proven to work. In fact, the biochemistry of antineoplastons has been analyzed and it’s basically a compound your body produces naturally, and excretes, as part of the normal breakdown products of metabolism. You must consider that the mean of two answers may not always be the right one – it’s quite possible Burzynski is merely a greedy charlatan dedicated to unethically milking money from his patients.

      Even in the documentary, BBC only included interviews with doctors who, either had little to no knowledge of the antineoplaston theraphy, or just totally rejected Dr Burzynski methods.

      Well, considering we know what antineoplastons are (phenylacetylglutamine) and have a pretty good idea of how they work. Notably, there’s no reason to believe they are effective chemotherapeutic agents.

      When someone is telling me a story,I would like to hear both sides and decide for myself what the truth is,and don’t like being pushed into one sided argument.

      What about when one person is telling you a story of how they made their car run by putting water in the gas tank, and the other side are a physicist, mechanic and engineer telling you how that’s impossible? Or when you are discussing aviation, with an aeronautical engineer on one side, and a yogic flyer on the other? Or a discussion of the age of the earth, with Fred Phelps and Ken Ham on one side, arguing for a 7,000 year old earth, and on the other, every single geologist on the planet explaining that no, it’s more like 4.5 billion years? Sometimes there are not two sides.

      I have seen both Burzynski movies and even tho I agree ,that there is little information on the procces by which this method works, I believe in providing a choice.

      I believe in patient choice as well, but I think patients should have an honest choice, that is based on the best information available. For Burzynski, ths isn’t the case. Burzynski hasn’t published any results indicating his treatments work, yet he still charges people hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of getting unproven treatments. How would you feel if Big Pharma tested a novel compound on patients while charging them $60,000 for the privilege of being a guinea pig?

      There is nothing wrong with providing hope

      What if it’s completely false hope? What if there is zero chance of it doing anything except making your final remaining months miserable and poor?

      Would you accept the word of the CEO of Pfizer that their new drug is a guaranteed cure for cancer, and they’re so sure of this fact that they didn’t bother to test it – just sold it for $100,000 per dose? Do you consider that to be “hope”? I don’t. I find it personally objectionable that Burzynski spends so much time promoting himself and his treatments while refusing to subject them to an honest scentific test, all the whole insulting oncologists who genuinely do test their protocols and abandon them if they don’t work.

      and if the numbers from Panorama report of successfully treated patients is true, then this is a success for me. Is it wrong to charge £100.000 for a treatment?….maybe,but what is your life worth to you?

      If $100,000 were the cost of a successful treat, I would mortgage my house and pay it without issue. But here’s the rub – how do we know that the $100,000 Burzynski charges his patients is to pay for a successful treatment? Where’s the proof? From my understanding, it’s basically from Burzynski’s say-so. Burzynski may be lying, to line his pocket. He may be lying, to protect himself from law suits. He may be incorrect, but honestly believes he is telling the truth – which doesn’t change the fact that he’s still charging people $100,000 for an ineffective treatment. He’s selling false hope, and false hope that rather spectacularly appears unlikely to work. Further, analysis of his results by actual oncologists, independent assessment of his claims, suggests that he is either lying to his patients or incompetent. Dr. Gorski gets nothing if he is right and Burzynski is wrong, meanwhile Burzynski stands to gain much if his claims continue unchallenged.

      In any case well being is more important than money, and regarless on which way we decide to turn, our first priority is to survive.

      Again, you are assuming that Burzynski increases your chance of surviving. Isn’t that rather like buying a used car and just trusting the salesman that it’s a fair price and running correctly? When I buy a used car, I check the blue book value and have a mechanic look it over, because I recognize the salesman is perfectly willing to lie to me if it means he makes more money in the process. Why do you think Burzynski is dealing honestly just because he says he is? Seems rather credulous to me.

    2. arsawyer says:

      @ Ivan

      If you’re new to SBM it probably looks like we are being very judgmental and one sided, but it’s because the real debate about Burzinski’s therapy already took place. Scientists and doctors WERE open minded, and politely asked for him to publish phase 2 trials and provide some very basic biochemistry research on why antineoplastons work. They asked for this for a DECADE. He didn’t deliver. Making crappy documentaries about his sham treatment were more important to him than designing simple straightforward experiments and filling out some paperwork. Patients have suffered needlessly and wasted tens of thousands of dollars precisely because Burzinski takes advantage of the false balance approach that so many journalists employ. So no, we’re not giving him the benefit of the doubt anymore.

      I highly encourage you to look back through the older posts on this site about how cancer quacks thrive on false hope and shoddy evidence. While some of the bloggers here come off a bit cynical at times, it’s pretty clear that taking a soft approach with quackery only prolongs the damage it inflicts on patients.

  29. John Basovich says:

    It’s sad when people are PAID to defame a man who is trying to bring a REVOLUTIONARY new drug to the world. Shows you how far and wide the tentacles of the FDA, Big Pharmaceutical companies,and the National Cancer Institute are…when they have something to lose….a trillion dollar business.

    To those trolls who are actively paid to defame the Burzynski clinic, I hope you one day have cancer and are put on chemotherapy and radiation. It you end up living more than few months, you’ll ask god why you tried to tear down the reputation of innovative new cancer treatment.

    The truth will prevail, I’m sure there will be a LEAKER from the aforementioned three organizations who will expose the TRUTH and pull a SNOWDEN.

    1. David Gorski says:

      The pharma shill gambit? That’s the best you can come up with? Pathetic.

      http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-pharma-shill-gambit/

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        Those who use the pharma shill gambit certainly are pathetic, mainly for these 2 reasons:
        (1) If even a small fraction of the accusations were true, they would have found hard evidence by now.There are paper trails everywhere, and there are whistleblowers and disgruntled ex-employees of Big Pharma who would have spilled the beans as they have spilled the beans about so many other misdeeds in the industry.
        (2) It shows a poverty of imagination. They are unable to even imagine any other reason that someone might write against their favorite treatment besides money. Maybe that says something about their own motivations. They are incapable of even considering that there might be a remote possibility that the treatment really doesn’t work.

  30. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    It’s sad when people are PAID to defame a man who is trying to bring a REVOLUTIONARY new drug to the world. Shows you how far and wide the tentacles of the FDA, Big Pharmaceutical companies,and the National Cancer Institute are…when they have something to lose….a trillion dollar business.

    You ever notice how big companies are forever buying up smaller start-ups for millions, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars? It’s because the big companies want effective tools (in the cases of Big Pharma, drugs) that can be monetized. They are forever on the lookout for new, innovative methods or molecules that can be turned into cures – because patients will pay for them. If Burzynski had even preliminary, high-quality evidence that his piss extracts did anything worth paying attention to – they would probably be sniffing around to buy it. But the reality is, we know what his antineoplastons are – phenylacetic acid and phenylacetyl glutamine. Phenylacetic acid is produced normally by the human body, converted to phenylacetyl glutamine in the liver, then pissed out. Burzynski does a bit of chemistry which results in a mixture of the two, which is then injected into the body.

    The reason why Big Pharma isn’t sniffing, is because they have the kind of sophisticated biochemical and medical knowledge to realize that Burzynski is doing little more than giving people regular chemotherapy, and the magic wand he’s waving about is made up of something the body produces naturally, then gets rid of.

    To those trolls who are actively paid to defame the Burzynski clinic, I hope you one day have cancer and are put on chemotherapy and radiation. It you end up living more than few months, you’ll ask god why you tried to tear down the reputation of innovative new cancer treatment.

    If that’s the game we’re playing, I hope you get cancer, try Burzynski’s clinic, and die poor. Darwin would regret your passing, while noting that it increases the overall evolutionary fitness of the species. For me, merely the latter.

    It’s a good thing that “hoping” doesn’t equal “causing”.

  31. windriven says:

    Re:Pingback: Critiquing Gorski

    A litany of nonsense where the ‘author’ attempts to refute Dr. Gorski’s criticisms of the subjective quality of Burzynski’s data with a shopping list of citations from, apparently, one of Burzynski’s own books. Inanity raised to an art form.

  32. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Wow, that is a helluva mash of uninterpretable data. Rather misses the point of controlled trials and careful reporting.

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