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Interesting article about the many doctors who had their cancer cures stopped!

angec's picture
angec
Posts: 613
Joined: Mar 2012

http://www.examiner.com/article/dr-burzynski-free-to-continue-curing-cancer

This is an excellent article and really raises some eyebrows. Makes me feel like getting a petition started to change the laws and even have the FDA investigated. People are suffering needlessly. It sure doesn't feel like a free world when success is chopped down by greed! This is wrong on so many levels and very informative.

garym's picture
garym
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Joined: Nov 2009

Very interesting, it has oft been said that the establishment does not really want a cure because it would mean the end of the gravy train.

NanoSecond's picture
NanoSecond
Posts: 503
Joined: Oct 2012

Sorry Angec,

Dr. Burzynski fits all the criteria of a quack. He has been prying on the good will (and pocketbooks) of suffering patients for over 30 years.

Here is just one of countless background stories on his endless scheme:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/12/05/arrogance-of-ignorance-about-cancer/

Please do a little more research. Yes, the FDA should be chastised - for not shutting this snake-oil salesman down 30 years ago...

angec's picture
angec
Posts: 613
Joined: Mar 2012

There were plenty of people in court testifying to how he has helped. Of course it doesn't work for everyone, nothing does. But the proof is in the pudding. They would not have thrown his case out if they could stop him for good! But him aside, look at all of the others that they never gave a chance, there has to be some truth in this.

alice124's picture
alice124
Posts: 860
Joined: Mar 2012

Unfortunately, Ange, I think of medicine in much the same way as politicians. As long as it is so lucrative, honesty and truth will be rare and greed and corruption out of control. I hope health reform helps, but that may be a pipe dream.

Raising questions and eyebrows--as you are--are part of the change process. Good for you!

angec's picture
angec
Posts: 613
Joined: Mar 2012

Yes Alice it is true. Everyone is out to make a buck. I am not defending this doctor Per'se I just feel that no one individual will be able to come out with their medicines because the "big companies" want it all! The FDA and the big companies are working together. No one can deny it. A lot of alternative treatments have to be done outside of the US as well, and there are plenty getting good results.

Nano, I did read that dr. B charged a lot of money and also he had turned others away. I am not defending that or saying he was right to do that. The point I was making is that he was able to help many patients and there is documentation for it as well as those who have testified in court who were helped by his treatments, it cannot be denied. I saw several pieces on the news in the past and the movie that was out on him. There are other possibilities out there for cancer and the avenues should be explored. That is my point.

NanoSecond's picture
NanoSecond
Posts: 503
Joined: Oct 2012

Ange,

I understand your motivation - you are a person of good will who just wants to help others. So am I. That is why I find this man and how he operates so despicable. Yes some patients may have been "helped" - there is a phenomena known as the "placebo effect" and it is nothing to be trifled with when it works. Regardless, his motivation is not altruistic in the least. He is certainly guilty of exactly what you surmise might be "wrong" with big Pharma and the FDA. Except that what he is selling does not have a shred of science or confirmed evidence behind it. It does not work as advertised.

As for the movie about him - well, I used to work in the film/video business and I know exactly how to craft this sort of propaganda. But any "true" documentary would explore all sides of the issue and present those patients (and their families) who were simply fleeced.

As far as relying on any media reports (read: "news" masked as entertainment) you must be kidding.

I had several well meaning friends and family members all recommend Dr. Burzynski to me when I first learned I was Stage IV. Each of them had only watched the damn movie - that is all they really knew about him. Sad.

All I can say is that if I had listened to them I would likely not be in the excellent shape I am today - but I would certainly be incredibly poorer. No thanks.

Yes, the FDA and big Pharma do work together in ways that are not always in our (the patient's) best interest. On the other hand, within the last decade they have managed to provide us with targeted molecular drugs and other miraculous substances that are currently prolonging our lives - if not saving them. Of these two "evils" I know which one to choose. The one that works.

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

After lengthy vacillation (based on the premonition that if I get started here I may not be able to stop) I've elected to pitch in on this debate.

So I'll get warmed up by indulging my pedantry before getting down to business. Thus, first: I get irritated by ellipsis in using metaphors that lose the meaning - the proof isn't in the pudding 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating', the full force of which is that you can't judge a pudding simply by the way it looks, rather you have to get stuck into it and find out how it tastes, which is very material to the debate here.

Next, I'm a little anxious about Ange's formulation "They would not have thrown his case out if they could stop him for good!" This seems to me to betoken a little haziness about the way the Anglo-American legal system works. It's an adversarial system (as opposed to the inquisitorial jursiprudence of the Civilan systems of continental Europe, based on Romen Law). The roles of prosecution and judgment must remain entirely distinct. The judgment is not in the gift of either side - otherwise it would be a "kangaroo court". The judge threw out the case here, much to the annoyance of the prosecution and to the profound disgust of David Gorski (see the link Nano gave). However, one of Ange's points bothers me too and I'll pick that up in a moment.

Another quick tut! tut! first over Nano's reference to "a phenomena" - phenomenon, please, N. (Ironically one can speak of 'a plural' but an indefinite article can't govern a plural - for some reason that reminds me of the quip “Why is there only one Monopolies Commission?”).

I have a lot of sympathy for Ange's question as to why (especially after 30 years or so of attempts to do so) his opponents haven't been able to stop Burzynski. Perhaps he is a total, self-serving charlatan but if the case against him is as unequivocal as Nano and 'Orac'(David Gosrski) maintain, how has he, for so long, evaded demolition in the courts. It's not as though his opposition don't have all the financial resources necessary to do so, countless times over. How can he have 'escaped on a technicality' time after time?

Please note that this isn't an apologia for Burzynski about whom I don't have enough solid information to form a judgment. I simply echo Ange's implicit question.

I agree with Nano about how easy it is to craft propaganda that looks plausible (though your "Fox News" seems to find that impossible - I think, N, that you meant to say 'entertainment masked as news', rather than vice versa?).

If I catch her drift, Ange thinks we can too easily throw the baby out with the bathwater in our attempt to impose rigour and accountability on innovative endeavours. I'm guessing that we can all agree that there are snake-oil purveyors we need to thwart in their bids to fleece the innocents in our society. At the same time, I trust we can all agree that, as Nano so aptly puts it "the FDA and big Pharma do work together in ways that are not always in our (the patient's) best interest". When they act counter to society's needs they are every bit as self-serving as the snake-oil salesmen, but on a vastly more damaging scale and I believe that that was a central point of Ange's.

That said, I don't want to dissent from Nano's "On the other hand, within the last decade they have managed to provide us with targeted molecular drugs and other miraculous substances that are currently prolonging our lives - if not saving them." Nor will I demur when it comes to his " Of these two "evils" I know which one to choose. The one that works." However, I think it's all too easy to get into black and white thinking at this point.

A major pitfall is getting drawn unwittingly into false dichotomies. Now, as an Englishman, I may be too prone to 'the art of compromise' and being too inclined to see that there are valid points on both sides of an argument, but I do see a danger in espousing a viewpoint so strongly that we blind ourselves to its limits. Nano has cited Orac's appraisal in support of the case against Burzynski and I think that's useful.

'Orac' has a right to be heard on the topic. He's a surgical oncologist, specialising in breast cancer and a research scientist involved in work of considerable potential value to us, involved as we are with RCC. He has a couple of blogs and I've read quite a bit of his writing with interest, in the past. He is also a man of such overwhelming modesty that when choosing the name of a supercomputer for his "nom de blog" (as he calls it) he eschewed adopting Douglas Adams's "Deep Thought" (Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy) in favour of "Orac" from Blake's 7, a computer of virtually infinite capacity but also notorious for verbosity and irascibility - a bad-tempered "What is it now?" when being disturbed by an enquiry from one of the crew (Avon, I think).

[It's amusing to me that he likes the British cult series (Blake's 7) which was a favourite of mine but which must have been screened before he was born, or not much after (?). It was only around for about 3 years, having been great fun for some of us, despite its risible production values - lacking any of the sort of gloss that so often makes Hollywood's output speciously attractive and Bollywood's merely ridiculous. I still can't forget the attractions of the delectable "Servalan", played by the alluring English actress Jacqueline Pearce, who is almost my age. Ironically, she succumbed to the disease Orac is expert on - breast cancer - seven years ago and had a recurrence this year, starting chemo for it on Friday 13th (April), this year. She left Africa and her beloved animals there to come back to London (she grew up near London) for treatment at a state-of-the-art new Macmillan cancer centre here and seems to be doing well.]

But, I digress! Orac is so committed to his viewpoint that I suspect he can lose perspective. He writes entertainingly but sometimes so fast, I presume, that he sometimes loses his grammar a little and occasionally says the opposite of what he means. I'd like to take issue with things he says but must acknowledge that I basically agree with his fundamental approach. He espouses SBM (Science based medicine) as a progression from EBM (Evidence based medicine) and considers that there is a shortfall in EBM in failing to pay due regard to Bayesian probability.

Alice mentioned her thoughts regarding similarities between the medical world and politicians. In an engaging recent blog ("Moneyball, politics, and science-based medicine", three weeks ago in his "Respectful Insolence" blog) Orac talks about the fruitful statistical approach to baseball performance ("Sabermetrics") that has paid off similarly in the realms of psephology and should be given its head in medicine!

Gorski is still a comparatively young man and will doubtless go places from being a junior author on a number of academic papers to being a force in his own right. I have the impression that he is one who responds over-sensitively to the charge of being potentially too much in thrall to the Establishment. He has tried to shoot the fox of critics of his stance by coining the memorable phrase of "the pharma shill gambit". I'm not in a position to evaluate how beholden he may be to drug companies for assisting in his research but he volubly objects to implications that he derives financial gain from involvement in investigations that may favour the interests of Big Pharma.

Whether my feeling that he may be too much the enthusiast [nearly said "zealot", Nano ;-)]
for the "scientific" approach to be truly scientific, is something I'll ponder over whatever time I have left to ponder anything. I think no-one should be excessively a 'respecter of persons' but I'm put off by his take on his namesake, the late David Servan-Schreiber - he will do well to match his justified eminence. I'd like to know his assessments of Jerry White and Dr. Keith Block - again men whose achievements he may never match. Time will tell. I'm puzzled by his seemingly equivocal relationship with Ben Goldacre whose hard-science scepticism he shares but whose new book "Bad Pharma" may not commend itself so much. Anyway, I'll try to read more of an interesting writer who is a deeper thinker than many in the medical profession.

This brings me full circle to the point that exercised Ange. She will doubtless be cheered by the thesis of Ben Goldacre's book Bad Pharma, viz:

"Medicine is broken. While patients trust that their drugs are safeand regulated, and doctors attempt to prescribe the most effective cures, the global pharmaceutical industry is a $600 billion business rife with corruption and greed.

Doctors and patients need good scientific evidence to make informed decisions. But companies run biased trials on their own drugs, which distort and exaggerate the results. Unflattering data is [sic!] simply buried. Government regulators withhold vitally important information. Seemingly independent doctor and patient groups are funded by the industry, in a world so cracked that medics and nurses are now educated by the drugs industry. The result of all this is inevitable: patients are harmed, unnecessarily, in huge numbers."

NanoSecond's picture
NanoSecond
Posts: 503
Joined: Oct 2012

Hey Tex,

Well your premonition almost came true ... that was quite a dissertation.

I agree with just about every point you made.

I have my own private opinion about the good Doctor Gosrski (Orac). I only quoted him because he had just posted his latest blog entry about Dr. B. moments before I saw Ange's post here. He concisely stated a counterpoint to many of the issues in the article that Ange linked to. Of course Orac is just one of countless others who have followed Dr. Burzynski's career with mounting surprise, then anger, then horror, only finally ending in frustration.

Yep, no one seems to understand why the FDA has not taken a hard line against Dr. B. - especially since he so flagrantly undermines all the usual protocols for his so-called (but always endless) Clinical Trials.

Now that particular topic would certainly be worth a real documentary, wouldn't you agree?

Perhaps Orac would likely take a dim view of Dr. Keith Block and others for reasons that would not be justified in my way of thinking. No matter, as you point out, he is still a young pup. Maybe one day, if he finds his life on the line, he will react in much the same way that Dr. Servan-Schreiber did.

For me, all I care about is what really works. That, of course, is what the FDA is also supposed to be caring about. When it works as conceived it results in good things. When it doesn't we all suffer.

NanoSecond's picture
NanoSecond
Posts: 503
Joined: Oct 2012

Ange,

The case was thrown out on a technicality. It had nothing to do with the "merits" of his claims.

Second, this man charges an incredible sum money for his patients to "participate" in clinical trials that never end and never result in any published results.

I dare you to cite any legitimate clinical trial where its patients are charged an incredible sum (or any sum) to participate.

There are no legitimate peer-reviewed research articles about his so-called "cure" or that "prove" anything remotely close to it. On the contrary, to date, no independent researcher have ever been able to reproduce his seemingly miraculous results.

Just read the facts. There is an extremely sordid side to his sorry history. He preys on suffering patients when they are the most vulnerable - and when they can least afford it.

Yet he continues to live in luxury mostly by claiming a fictitious conspiracy against his wonderful "cancer cure".

Limelife50's picture
Limelife50
Posts: 409
Joined: Nov 2011

Hey maybe i could try out one of those Religious healers,i could do this on live T.V and then shout out praise the Lord i am cured.

NanoSecond's picture
NanoSecond
Posts: 503
Joined: Oct 2012

I realize this topic has likely been beat to death.

Still, it is well worth reading about the sad experience of 2 recent victims of Dr. Burzynski's ongoing scam.

You can find their horrifying stories here:

http://skepticalhumanities.com/2012/12/08/luna-petugines-story/

http://skepticalhumanities.com/2012/12/07/adam-mcarthurs-story-4/

Limelife50's picture
Limelife50
Posts: 409
Joined: Nov 2011

Not trying to be disrespectfull but i was reffering to the alien spacecraft that crashed in New Mexico in the fifties with the aliens aboard,rumor has it there was a big cover up by our goverment.I really wish this were true about doctors who had their cancer cures stopped but i am sorry i really do doubt this.I first heard about this rumor way back in the early nineties,had my doubts then and still do now.With over a hundred different types of cancer and amongst those there are different subtypes making the biology of cancer very complex thus developing drug cures extremely complicated.The best cure for cancer is the same today as it was fifty years and that is through surgical intervention and yes i know over just the last few years medical science has come a long way with current drug thearapies that have provided a cure for a small percentage and also extending the lives of many others.I mentioned this before and that was what i believe is given the current science with drug therapies i see people diagnosed with cancer living longer with maybe 10 or 15 years being the norm rather than the current benchmark of 5 years today,also i do agree with Alice on one point and that is alot of people stand to make tons of money keeping us around for a few years rather than curing us.

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