Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

The Burzynski Clinic

I have seen a number of very sad stories over the last few months that all have something in common. The most recent was printed in the Observer last Sunday. It is an utterly heart-rending story of a little girl who is dying of brain cancer. It is hard to imagine anything more terrible for any parents to have to face.

It is understandable that when you find yourself in that situation, you will be prepared to clutch at straws. If someone offers you a hope of a cure, you'd take it, wouldn't you, even if you knew that the chances of a cure were slim?

Well, that is what the Burzynski Clinic is offering. They are offering a treatment called "antineoplaston therapy", for which they charge tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. That would all be worth doing if antineoplaston therapy had shown evidence of being able to cure brain cancers.

But, despite the marketing efforts of the Burzynski Clinic, there is sadly no evidence that that is true. And it's not because antineoplastons are a new treatment that have not had time to be properly researched. The Burzynski Clinic have been running trials with antineoplastons since the 1980s, but despite that, they have yet to provide any evidence from randomised controlled trials that the treatment is effective. While I realise that absence of evidence is not the same thing as evidence of absence, I really believe that if no evidence has been found after all that time, then the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that antineoplaston treatment does not work. I would be delighted to be proved wrong, of course, but it's hard to see that happening after 3 decades of research have failed to come up with anything convincing.

There are further reasons to doubt the bona fides of the Burzynski Clinic. Dr Burzynski has previously been successfully sued for fraud, having attempted to claim reimbursement from a health insurance company for antineoplaston treatment when it was not covered by the insurance. It is also hardly the act of a reputable institution that, when faced with blogs criticising antineoplaston treatment, the clinic uses vague and unprofessional legal threats, rather than attempting to explain why the critical bloggers were mistaken.

I'm afraid the only conclusion I can draw is that the Burzynski Clinic, whether knowingly or perhaps through simply not understanding the limitations of their treatment, are taking advantage of vulnerable and desperate people, charging them life-changing sums of money for treatments that have no realistic hope of any benefit.

There are some other excellent blogs about the Burzynski Clinic, which I encourage you to read:

False hope

How much does hope cost?

The weird world of US ethics regulation

The false hope of the Burzynski Clinic

The Burzynski Clinic

Controversy surrounding Burzynski’s ‘pioneering’ cancer therapy should be reported in newspapers

And finally, Ducks are nuthin’ but trouble, which contains a list of links to other blogs on the subject.

The problems with the Burzynski Clinic are thus very well documented in the blogosphere. What I don't understand is why the mainstream media have been silent about, or even complicit in, this scandal.

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