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Burzynski Cancer Clinic Threatens Skeptical Bloggers
Posted: 28 November 2011 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]
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A well-respected skeptical blog, the Quackometer, recently posted an article about celebrity fundraising efforts to help a child with cancer afford expensive, but unproven and highly dubious, therapy at the Burzynski Cancer Clinic in Texas. Since then, a self-identified spokesperson for the clinic has sent bizarre threatening tirades to this blogger and others, such as Orac at Respectful Insolence, who are critical of alternative medicine. The background on the clinic and the doctor behind it, as well as the evidence concering the therapy, can be found HERE and HERE.

I’ve reposted this subject on my own blog (HERE and HERE) , and it has also been picked up by other skeptical blogs, including Stuff and Nonsense, Skepticat, Skepticblog, The Skeptic Society, and others.

I think it is important that such attempts to intimidate critics of scientifically and ethically questionable therapies be publicized and resisted. Litigation and intimidation are common, but illegitimate methods by which quacks suppress information about therapies for which legitimate scientific validation does not exist. Consumers will not have the critical information they need to make informed healthcare choices if the only information they are allowed to see is that from people selling such therapies. I encourage everyone to help publicize these kind of attacks against skeptics in any way possible.

Here’s a sample of the threats I’m talking about:

The various terms you use in your article connote dishonesty, untrustworthiness, illegality, and fraud.  You, maliciously with the intent to harm my clients and to destroy his business, state information which is wholly without support, and which damages my clients’ reputations in the community. The purpose of your posting is to create in the public the belief that my clients are disreputable, are engaged in on-going criminal activity, and must be avoided by the public….

Andy Lewis,  Just so you know that I am very serious.  I copied Renee Trimble the Director of Public Relations, and Azad Rastegar the spokesperson for the Burzynski Clinic.  You and your supporters can stop asking if I am an attorney.  Again, I represent the Burzynski Clinic, Burzynski Research Institute, and Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski.  If your articles remain online I will pursue you in court to 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.

Regards,

Marc Stephens..


From the next day:

You are apart of a network started by Michael Shermer called “Skeptic Society”–http://www.skeptic.com/, which is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization that examines….alien abductions”.  Your network is linked to other fraudulent websites and individuals, such as, quackwatch.com, ratbags.com, the21stfloor, Peter Bowditch, Rhys Morgan, Stephen Barrett, Dr. Saul Green, etc…

Your Skeptic network uses the quackwatch.com website as the Bible to your mission of lying to the public.  You are not posting your “opinion” and “concern for public health”, you and your network are posting malicious propaganda against my client which stretches back over 10 years…

If your articles remain online I will pursue you in court to the highest extent of the law.

Threats to your family? You mentioned to me that you just had a child.  I advised you to spend more time with your child instead of lying to the public.  I also advised that you will be affected financially once a lawsuit is filed against you. Why would you be so selfish and inconsiderate to your family to go through the stressful and financial burden of multiple court proceedings knowing that you are posting lies and propaganda?

It would be easy to dismiss this guy as a hysterical loon, despite his attempts to intimidate people exercising their right to free speech and providing the public with the information they deserve when asked to spend large sums of money on dubious therapies. But it is doubly conccerning that the Burzynski Clinic itself has not yet made any effort to distance itself from this individual or these tactics. Is this the response of a legitimate scientist or a legitimate healthcare facility?

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Posted: 28 November 2011 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Sounds to me like the Buzynski clinic has a loon for a lawyer. What the skeptic movement needs, is a good lawyer to represent the good!

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Posted: 28 November 2011 05:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I wish i could say i was surprised but Im not. You can sue anyone for anything in this country. Its only when it finally makes its way to court that a case might actually have to have some merit. This person doesnt sound like a real lawyer though. His comments are amateurish. A real lawyer doesn’t usually make such blatant threats. They are usually a lot more subtle and implied. Of course he could just be a very bad lawyer.

I wouldnt be surprised if the Burzynski Cancer Clinic fails to say anything either. What do they have to gain by distancing themselves. The only people who are likely to be aware of this nut’s comments are the people who already support the cause and have forgone common sense and science already. They may see him as a hero.

I dont see this actually going anywhere. As long as the critiques have stuck to the facts ie: Claims that there is little or no scientific evidence to support the use of these treatments, then this is a scientific debate and not slander. I think this guy is just a lot of hot air..there now he can sue me for slander instead raspberry

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Posted: 28 November 2011 05:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Have you ever seen any of Orly Taitz’s writings? Trying to demand Obama’s prosecution, because of course, we all know his birth certificate is a fake. Her grammar would make a highschool student cringe!

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Posted: 28 November 2011 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The guy probably isn’t a lawyer, and he is clearly a nut. But Simon Singh, Stephen Barrett, Paul Offit, and many others have been put through a great deal of pain and expense through frivolous lawsuits intended to intimidate them into not speaking out about bogus therapies. Other bloggers, like Orac, have have personal threats made against them, had their emloyers lobbied to fire them, and other such underhanded tactics employed to stop them from writing. Even my little blog has generated a couple of implied threats, and a good deal of personal abuse. Such may not have legal merit, but they have a very real chilling effect on public discourse. I am often contacted by other veterinarians who appreciate my work on these subjects but who refuse to say anything to clients of colleagues for fear of har to their reputations, their business, or of personal harm. This kind of behavior may not have legal merit or much success in the courts,but it clearly has a chilling effect on those would try to educate the public about the state of science and evidence concerning alternative therapies.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 06:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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mckenzievmd - 28 November 2011 06:35 PM

The guy probably isn’t a lawyer, and he is clearly a nut. But Simon Singh, Stephen Barrett, Paul Offit, and many others have been put through a great deal of pain and expense through frivolous lawsuits intended to intimidate them into not speaking out about bogus therapies. Other bloggers, like Orac, have have personal threats made against them, had their emloyers lobbied to fire them, and other such underhanded tactics employed to stop them from writing. Even my little blog has generated a couple of implied threats, and a good deal of personal abuse. Such may not have legal merit, but they have a very real chilling effect on public discourse. I am often contacted by other veterinarians who appreciate my work on these subjects but who refuse to say anything to clients of colleagues for fear of har to their reputations, their business, or of personal harm. This kind of behavior may not have legal merit or much success in the courts,but it clearly has a chilling effect on those would try to educate the public about the state of science and evidence concerning alternative therapies.

I agree with you completely. Unfortunately all we can do is try to educate people and get these issues out there. There will always be people who get angry when you challenge their views about subjects they believe in. I’m not really sure what we can do about the legal issues. Unfortunately the legal system is broken and people can certainly misuse it to threaten others with crippling legal fees even when they haven’t got a leg to stand on. I have argued for some time that using the legal system this way and making these sort of threats should be considered a form of extortion and that anyone who does this should be eligible for jail time and civil penalties. As long as the lawyers are in charge though this will never happen.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 08:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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mckenzievmd - 28 November 2011 06:35 PM

The guy probably isn’t a lawyer, and he is clearly a nut. But Simon Singh, Stephen Barrett, Paul Offit, and many others have been put through a great deal of pain and expense through frivolous lawsuits intended to intimidate them into not speaking out about bogus therapies. Other bloggers, like Orac, have have personal threats made against them, had their emloyers lobbied to fire them, and other such underhanded tactics employed to stop them from writing. Even my little blog has generated a couple of implied threats, and a good deal of personal abuse. Such may not have legal merit, but they have a very real chilling effect on public discourse. I am often contacted by other veterinarians who appreciate my work on these subjects but who refuse to say anything to clients of colleagues for fear of har to their reputations, their business, or of personal harm. This kind of behavior may not have legal merit or much success in the courts,but it clearly has a chilling effect on those would try to educate the public about the state of science and evidence concerning alternative therapies.

Yep, it’s absolutely heinous. Thanks for calling it to our attention and please do continue to keep us in the loop.

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Posted: 28 November 2011 09:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Marc Stephens is not a lawyer, he is the PR rep for the Burzynski Clinic. He is obviously not good at PR. Can anyone say Streisand Effect?

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Posted: 30 November 2011 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Per the ever informative Orac at Respectful Insolence, the Burzynski Cancer Clinic has backed down—-well, sort of. The clinic has apparently fired Marc Stephens and disavowed his specific threats against Andy Lewis, but it has reaffirmed that the original post at issue was inaccurate and that the clinic’s lawyers will be contacting the bloggers involved.

The press release also asserted that there is, in fact, scientific evidence to support the benefit of the therapy they employ. The list of evidence provided consists mostly of unpublished abstracts, case reports, and other sources at fairly high risk for bias. Orac has promised to review these and see if there is any substance to them, and I will keep an eye out for that analysis. So far, it looks like the Streisand Effect has at least partially done its job in forcing the clinic to throw Marc Stephens under the bus for his outrageous behavior, but the threat of litigation is still there so the organization bears watching.

Here is the text of the clinic’s press release as posted on Respectfl Insolence:

The Burzynski Clinic is issuing the following public statement regarding recent internet activity between U.K. bloggers who have provided inaccurate information regarding the Clinic and Marc Stephens.

Marc Stephens was recently hired by the Burzynski Clinic as an independent contractor to provide web optimization services and to attempt to stop the dissemination of false and inaccurate information concerning Dr. Burzynski and the Clinic.

We understand that Marc Stephens sent a google map picture of a blogger’s house to the blogger and made personal comments to bloggers. Dr. Burzynski and the Clinic feel that such actions were not appropriate. Dr. Buzynski and the Burzynski Clinic apologize for these comments. Marc Stephens no longer has a professional relationship with the Burzynski Clinic.

These bloggers will be contacted by attorneys representing the Clinic informing them of the specific factual statements contained in these blogs which the Clinic believes are false and defamatory, including the following

A. Antineoplastons are made from urine. False - Antineoplastons are synthesized from chemicals

B. That Dr. Burzynski falsely claims to have a PhD. - False. In fact, Dr. Burzynski has a Ph.D. from the Medical Academy of Lublin and a copy of an official affadavit will be put up at the Burzynski Clinic website (http://www.cancermed.com).

C. There are no scientific studies supporting antineoplaston treatment since 2006. False - below is alist of publications and abstracts providing the results of the FDA-approved clinical trials since 2006 which demonstrate the treatment’s efficacy on a wide variety of brain tumors.

U.K. bloggers made factual misstatements about the clinic as a response to a funding campaign relating to a U.K. patient named Laura Hyman who was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly form of cancer. She commenced treatment at the Clinic in August 2011. We are happy to report that Laura is doing well on antineoplaston treatment and that her tumor is shrinking. Her personal blog about her treatment by the Burzynski Clinic is at http://www.hopeforlaura.com.

Eleven (11) phase II FDA-approved clinical trials using antineoplastons for various forms of brain tumors have been completed. Based on the positive results the FDA has granted permission to undertake phase III clinical trials. The results fo these trials are detailed in the Burzynski Research Institute’s SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) filings available at (http://finance.yahoo.com/q/sec?s=bzyr.ob)

Contact: Renee Trimble, Director of Public Relations

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Posted: 30 November 2011 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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..and I’m sure all of their studies will come up just hunky! I look forward to seeing their very effective treatments (NOT) brought to every major medical facility in the country. smile

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Posted: 25 January 2012 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Ok, at the risk of attack…

I just watched the Burzynski movie (on Netflix). It’s also available free HERE. I confess that I was very upset by the movie and fell on the side of Burzynski. The patent infringement, dishonest researchers (Friedman, Samid), FDA/Pharma attack dogs, and the Nat’l Cancer Inst., came off very poorly in the movie. The movie seemed to be very well documented and clearly presented. So… what am I missing?

Edited to correct Samit to Samid.

[ Edited: 25 January 2012 02:30 PM by traveler ]
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Posted: 25 January 2012 07:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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traveler - 25 January 2012 02:28 PM

Ok, at the risk of attack…

I just watched the Burzynski movie (on Netflix). It’s also available free HERE. I confess that I was very upset by the movie and fell on the side of Burzynski. The patent infringement, dishonest researchers (Friedman, Samid), FDA/Pharma attack dogs, and the Nat’l Cancer Inst., came off very poorly in the movie. The movie seemed to be very well documented and clearly presented. So… what am I missing?

Edited to correct Samit to Samid.

I only had time to get through the first 15 minutes or so but all i saw was a fathers story that was clearly presented to generate sympathy and a doctor of unknown credentials who made vague claims and unfounded unlikely insinuations (ie. that the medical profession belittled this doctors ideas because the substance was found in urine .. seriously??). Do they make any references at all controlled trials published in peer reviewed journals in this documentary/infomercial? All legitimate researchers and physicians publish their results where they can be critiqued and repeated. I’m guessing that they only refer to some mysterious studies without giving any actual details but if I’m wrong let me know. I dont think Im gong to have 2 hours to watch this whole video.

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Posted: 25 January 2012 10:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Traveller, the other thing you need to take into consideration is that after THIRTY years, the clinic is still conducting trials, without any serious publications in any peer reviewed journals, or publications of results. This is unheard of. In every other medical trial I have ever heard of, the patients are (nominally) paid for participation, this is the first medical trial I have ever heard of where the patient is charged…and they are charged 30+THOUSAND dollars for ‘treatments’.
These two issues should be HUGE redder than red flags.

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Posted: 26 January 2012 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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macgyver - 25 January 2012 07:23 PM

I only had time to get through the first 15 minutes or so but all i saw was a fathers story that was clearly presented to generate sympathy and a doctor of unknown credentials who made vague claims and unfounded unlikely insinuations (ie. that the medical profession belittled this doctors ideas because the substance was found in urine .. seriously??). Do they make any references at all controlled trials published in peer reviewed journals in this documentary/infomercial? All legitimate researchers and physicians publish their results where they can be critiqued and repeated. I’m guessing that they only refer to some mysterious studies without giving any actual details but if I’m wrong let me know. I dont think Im gong to have 2 hours to watch this whole video.

After watching 14% (15/107) of the movie you have already concluded that it is an infomercial? If you were on the receiving end of that remark, you would correctly state that the person need not watch the entire 107 minutes because their mind has already been prejudiced beyond reason. And yes, controlled trials are very much discussed as are the unethical behaviors of respected authors of peer-reviewed journal articles.

I respect this forum, which is why I asked for help in understanding why Burzynski is a quack. So far, I’m left wanting…

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Posted: 26 January 2012 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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traveler - 26 January 2012 08:14 AM

I respect this forum, which is why I asked for help in understanding why Burzynski is a quack. So far, I’m left wanting…

What about the material in the OP?

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Posted: 26 January 2012 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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asanta - 25 January 2012 10:30 PM

Traveller, the other thing you need to take into consideration is that after THIRTY years, the clinic is still conducting trials, without any serious publications in any peer reviewed journals, or publications of results. This is unheard of. In every other medical trial I have ever heard of, the patients are (nominally) paid for participation, this is the first medical trial I have ever heard of where the patient is charged…and they are charged 30+THOUSAND dollars for ‘treatments’.
These two issues should be HUGE redder than red flags.

It is clear that you too have not watched the movie. This is all very well explained by the movie.

What I find disappointing is that critical thinkers are making conclusions about a movie they have not even watched.

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