Monsters Are Real: Houston’s Dr. Burzynski a Danger to Children & Teens
Instead of the usual Dear Sasquatch post, I’m writing this week about an important campaign that is particularly relevant to the readers of this blog. It’s about an “alternative” cancer doctor who has made millions off people with cancer and their families by charging them exorbitant fees for fraudulent, harmful treatments. (I use quotation marks around “alternative” not to be snarky but because the Burzynski Clinic treats its patients with chemotherapy drugs, which is exactly what most patients believe they are paying him to avoid. To make matters worse, the drugs he uses, and has used for more than 30 years, have still not be proven effective!)
Many of these patients at his Burzynski clinic in Houston were children and teens who suffered needlessly and died in his care. (You can read some of their stories at The OTHER Burzynski Patient Group website.)
Burzynski and his team not only threaten the lives of children and teens with cancer, they are not above threatening teens who try to do something about it. When 17-year-old Rhys Morgan wrote about the dangers and lack of efficacy of Burzynski’s “cutting edge” cancer treatment, antineoplaston therapy, he received repeated threats from a representative of Burzynski in an attempt to silence him. Appended to one of these many threats was a Google satellite image of Rhys’s home.
In other words, rather than respond to criticism with scientific evidence, Burzynski and cohorts opted to let him know We know where you live. (You can read about it in Rhy’s own words, with excerpts from the threatening messages he received, in his post Threats from the Burzynski Clinic
This wasn’t an isolated incident. Another critic of Burzynski’s cancer treatments, Andy Lewis, received threats to his wife and newborn baby from Dr. Burzynski’s rep. Read all about it in The Burzynski Clinic Threatens My Family.
These are not the acts of a man who even believes himself that his treatments work.
Which brings me back to the campaign I mentioned in the opening of this post. Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski’s 70th birthday is January 23, 2013, and the Skeptics for the Protection of Cancer Patients have decided to celebrate in a way that actually benefits children with cancer. They have started a fundraiser to raise at least $30,000 by January 23, when they will challenge the Burzynski Clinic to match whatever they raise, with the total amount going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The goal amount is a drop in the bucket compared with what the man has conned out of people with cancer and their loved ones, but it was not chosen randomly. That amount is merely the fee for a single person to enter Burzynski’s “clinical trial” of antineoplaston therapy, not including the tens of thousands of dollars (often per month) of medication costs or additional treatment fees.
The point is not that we can do much to get people’s money back and more important, we certainly can’t get their lives back, but this money may help present and future children with cancer as well as raise awareness of Burzynski’s scam and how to spot health-care scams in general.
The Skepchicks and Rhys Morgan have added an extra incentive. If you help them raise at least $5,000 of the fundraiser’s goal by midnight, January 22, Rebecca Watson, Rhys Morgan, and other well-known skeptics and atheists will take each other on in Team Fortress 2, live-streamed so we all can watch the mayhem.
You can also help by writing about Burzynski, the Burzynski Clinic, the Burzynski Patient Group, the harms and ineffectiveness of antineoplaston therapy, the ineffectiveness of his latest scam Personal Genome Testing (basically a cancer horoscope with no basic in actual science), and how to recognize fraudulent, ineffective health-related claims.
The more factual information we can get out there, the more good we can do. After all, how often do you get a chance to fight monsters and save the lives of children?
Additional sources of information:
Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, antineoplastons, and the selling of an orphan drug as a cancer cure, David Gorski (oncologist)
What Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski doesn’t want you to know about antineoplastons, Orac (oncologist, cancer researcher)
Burzynski Scam.com, Wayne & Lisa Merritt (Wayne is a former patient of the Burzynski Clinic)
Stanislaw Burzynski and “Antineoplastons,” Saul Green
Burzynski Blogs: My Master List, Josephine Jones
Featured image by Sébastien Barré.