Skeptical readers may have seen the name Stanislaw Burzynski floating around the internet of late. Dr Burzynski believes he has found the cure for cancer and is accepting enormous amounts of money from desperate people to enrol them in his ‘trials’.
Burzynski claims that a group of peptides which he calls ‘antineoplaston’ are the key to curing cancer. He administers this treatment in ‘clinical trials’ at his Burzynski Clinic and the Burzynski Research Institute in Houston, Texas.
It probably won’t come as a great shock to you (Burzynski not having won the Nobel prize) that independent studies have been unable to reproduce the positive results reported in Burzynski’s own studies. In fact, the mainstream medical community seems unanimously convinced that Burzynski’s claims are nothing more than ‘scientific nonsense’.
Burzynski has been constantly in trouble with the law since 1993 when he was taken to court for treating patients with a non-FDA approved drug.
He was found guilty of fraud in 1994 and had severe advertising restrictions placed on him in 1998. He was in trouble with the FDA again in 2009 for conducting trials which did not adequately minimize risk to patients. In 2010 he was up on ten charges including:
- a failure to practice medicine in an acceptable professional manner
- a failure to meet the standard of care
- negligence in performing medical services
- failure to use professional diligence
- failure to safeguard against potential complications
- failure to disclose reasonably foreseeable side effects of a procedure or treatment
- failure to disclose reasonable alternative treatments to a proposed procedure or treatment
- failure to obtain informed consent from the patient or other person authorized by law to consent to treatment on the patient’s behalf before performing tests, treatments, or procedures
- non-compliant prescription or administration of a drug
- unprofessional or dishonorable conduct that is likely to deceive or defraud the public or injure the public
A 2010 film, Burzynski, Cancer is Serious Business , which uncritically promoted Burzynski’s unproven claims, only served to spread his reputation as a quack and charlatan of the first order.
But here is the fun bit. In the last few weeks, a Mr Marc Stephens, who identifies himself as ‘representing’ Burzynski has been writing pseudo-legal letters to bloggers who criticize the good doctor. In the strongest possible language Stephens demands that articles critical of Burzynski be taken down ….. or else. These letters are so reminiscent of those that emanate from Nigerian scammers – or even uber-troll Dave Mabus – that it’s impossible to read them without laughing out loud.
One of the recipients of Mr Stephens’ correspondence is Andy Lewis who runs the Quackometer blog. By publishing Stephens’ hilarious threats, Lewis unleashed the ‘Streisand’ effect. This well-known internet phenomenon proves the theory that the more you try to hush something up on the internet the more likely it is to go viral. Always willing to sing for skepticism, this is my small choral contribution to spreading the word about Burzynski. Many thanks to Marc Stephens – without his trollish letters I would probably have never heard about Burzynski, let alone felt motivated to write about him.
Do pop over to Quackometer to read the full extent of Marc Stephens’ dumbfuckery. But, for your reading pleasure, here’s a short extract. Tip -it’s much more fun if you read it aloud in a very angry voice:
You have a history of lying in your articles since 2008. All articles and videos posted from your little network are being forwarded to local authorities, as well as local counsel. It is your responsibility to understand when you brake[sic] the law. I am only obligated to show you in court. I am giving you final warning to shut the article down. The days of no one pursuing you is over. Quackwatch, Ratbags, and the rest of you Skeptics days are numbered.
So, since you have a history of being stubborn, you better spend the rest of the day researching the word Fraud … Your source of information are all frauds, and none are medical doctors. You being apart of the same network makes you guilty, in the eyes of the jurors.
… when I present to the juror that my client and his cancer treatment has went up against 5 Grand Juries which involved the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Aetna Life Insurance, Emprise, Inc., Texas State Medical Board, and the United States Government, and was found not guilty in all 5 cases, you will wish you never wrote your article. … I am going to pursue you at the highest extent of the law.
If you had no history of lying, and if you were not apart of a fraud network I would take the time to explain your article word for word, but you already know what defamation is. I’ve already recorded all of your articles from previous years as well as legal notice sent by other attorneys for different matters. As I mentioned, I am not playing games with you. You have a history of being stubborn which will play right into my hands. Be smart and considerate for your family and new child, and shut the article down..Immediately. FINAL WARNING.
I know you will be shocked to hear that Marc Stephens isn’t a real lawyer – perhaps he plays one on TV?
For more of this saga, see how Mr Stephens threatened 17 year old British blogger Rhys Morgan – even sending Google Earth photos of Rhys’ house to intimidate him. Just charming.
My good friends, Ed Brown, from the Really, Ed Brown blog and Lucas Randall (aka Codenix) have added their voices to the Streisand effect and they provide some good links to more information on Burzynski and Stephens. I’m sure they won’t mind me sharing them here, but go visit their blogs as well – they’re good ‘uns.
- The Quackometer – The Burzynski Clinic Threatens 17 Year Old Blogger
- The Quackometer – The Burzynski Clinic Threatens My Family
- Science Blogs – Marc Stephens issues more threats on behalf of the Burzynski Clinic
- Neurologica Blog – The Burzynski Clinic – Another Crank Tries to Intimidate a Blogger
- Bad Astronomy Blog – “Alternative” cancer clinic threatens to sue high school blogger
- The Quackometer – The False Hope of the Burzynski Clinic
- Quackwatch – Stanislaw Burzynski and “Antineoplastons”
- Ministry of Truth – Texas Medical Board vs Bruzynski
And lastly,Lucas Randall (aka Codenix) has written some poetry about the saga. You can read the full poem here.
*That’s Chrys with a ‘y’ and Stevenson with a ‘v’, Mr Stephens. I’ll be delighted to publish any threatening letters you care to send. I have nothing to lose and a passionate dislike for bullies and frauds – especially those who target the parents of dying children (thanks Peter Bowditch).
Read more about Burzynski on Wikipedia
Read more about antineoplaston on Wikipedia
But wait … there’s more! It seems our delightful Marc Stephens has a history of writing abusive emails in defence of Dr Burzynski. This one was directed to someone who simply warned that people should be wary of alternative treatments. It’s a doozy. Stephens says, in part:
“You are stubborn which is why god gave you so much pain in your life. God hate ugly as they say. This is also why your comments are filled with ignorance, hate, and lies. you work for the devil now.. Wake up miss cancer patient of the decade. You probably LIED about cancer as well..you need attention.
In the end I will be laughing at all of you psychos. Go drink a glass of chemo..on the rocks. You are psycho but at least you have an excuse. Radiation and chemo turned you out..you no longer think with logic.
I already know your name and address. So good luck if a suit is at your front door. You talk too much thats how I found you. Lol. Be a good girl..hope you dont have pain in your thighs anytime soon..your already a pain in the ***… Lol.”
Amongst this stream of invective, Stephens also shares his contact details:
“Feel free to contact me anytime 562-843-9398 [Long Beach/Irvine, California] or firstname.lastname@example.org. Many people are unaware that Dr. Burzynski patients are treated and are doing great. Don’t fall pray to propaganda. There is also a movie out (documentary) about Dr. Burzynski which has won numerous awards..I suggest you watch it. Thursday March 31 I am very serious. Thank you Marc Stephens. fyi..Dont think your IP is not tracked. Good night.”
More on the Anaximperator blog.
Update: And a brilliant blog post on Marc Stephens, the termination of his association with Burzynski, how he has almost certainly broken California law, and the back-alley dobermans Burzynski has hired in his stead from Ken at Popehat.
If you receive a threat on behalf of the Burzynski clinic, it might be a good idea to drop Ken and his fellow real attorneys a line.
Go Chrys!!!! There is only one treatment that’s efective against the Quacks and Frauds who infest the fringes of alternative medicine: the cold hard light of truth, administered with a hefty dose of calm reason, and a follow-up course of ridicule.
Brava! Brava! Bravissimo!
Wow, Chrys! Great post!
But credit where credit’s due, (I should have pointed this out in my post, which I’m fixing now) those links at the end were originally collected by Lucas, at the end of his excellent poem.
Peddling dodgy techniques that don’t work is one thing (I can give some slack to people who genuinely believe their treatment works – anyone can easily fall into bad thinking and logical fallacies) but there are ways and ways of dealing with critics. Intimidation, harassment and baseless threats of legal action are just plain gutless.
Anyone know where I can but a hydrogen car as well as a cancer cure?
Totally *love* your small choral contribution.
I’ve been reading with amused interest the many tweets and articles about this morally bankrupt charlatan over the last few days. I especially enjoyed Mr Stephens being demolished by young Rhys Morgan at http://rhysmorgan.co/2011/11/threats-from-the-burzynski-clinic/. Good to see you adding your eloquent voice to the ever growing choir.
Oh, that letter is a scream! Thanks for the giggle, Chrys…and, um, ‘Marc’
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Preaching to the choir has never sounded so good!
Great summary, Gladly.
Following my links to interesting and reliable people I found this blog post from Jen McCreight on the quality of the research reputably submitted to scientific journals by Mr Burzynski. Amusing and illuminating.
Re the Addendum: Wow! Who’s calling who a psycho?!
Nice post. Anyone hear that Dr Buzynski was honored by the Catholic Church in 2013. So claims Kiran Schmidt… and he’s posting ‘real’ documents signed by Cardinal Sodano. This can’t be real!!!
see ‘the quackiest of quacksters’..