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Burzynski Cancer Clinic Scam

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Today, I'd like to spread awareness about the Burzynski Cancer Clinic scam. Unlike my other scam articles, this one doesn't involve a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme and it is already starting to get extensive coverage on the Internet. Nonetheless, I think much can be learned from the story and I find it so interesting on so many levels that I feel I have to try to write about it. I emphasize the word "try" there, because there are so many angles to cover, I'm likely to not do it justice.

Basic Background on the Burzynski Cancer Clinic Scam

The Burzynski Clinic is a cancer clinic in Texas started by Dr. Stanislaw R. Burzynski in 1977. This "doctor" came up with some alternative method of treating cancer. (I put "doctor" in quotes Stanislaw Burzynski may not actually be a doctor.) The thing is that it hasn't been shown to work. In fact, there are articles that suggest that it has been shown not to work. No other scientists or doctors seem to be able to replicate some of early results he claimed.

You might ask how this clinic is allowed to operate if it doesn't work. Glad you asked. Turns out that for decades Burzynski has been using a loophole - conducting clinical trials in hopes of getting FDA approval. Since the 90's he's done 61 trials that are of the phase II variety (most with "unknown" status - only one "completed") and only 1 that is phase III. At this point, he should get all the necessary trials done by around 2468... that is if any of them actually show any positive results.

So why do care about these trials? It turns out that price for a treatment at the clinic (i.e. to be a victim participant in one of the clinical trials) is around $120,000 a year. Though one recent trial's cost was pegged at $312,000. Insurances won't cover it, because the treatment is considered somewhere between "unproven" and "disproven" depending on who you talk to.

I could go into more extensive detail about the lawsuits with the FDA or the "science" and the clinic, but I have nothing to add that oncologist David H. Gorski didn't already write on Burzynski here. He has 7,000 words on the clinic - this section represents the smallest fraction of that story.

"How Much Would Pay for Hope?"

"How much would you pay for hope? £75,000? How about $140,000? Given a life-threatening illness, or a chance to completely change your circumstances, I’d guess that most people would say that hope is priceless, and that they would pay anything, and indeed, everything, for that chance at hope." - Jennifer Keane at Zen Buffy

Ms. Keane is one of two people who I'm adding to my hero list today... and it's not just because I have thing for martial arts experts who call themselves Buffy. I'm adding her because she wrote the personal finance component to the story that I was going to write.

I had seen this logic used many times on my previous MLM articles. One early commenter on my MonaVie article said that he read online that the fruit juice helps with autism. So he bought it at a cost of around $1500 per year for his son. His logic was just that, "How can I not try? I have to try something!" My response back was that if he was truly going to use that logic, he'd have to try every product at GNC and every food known to man, "Perhaps a $5,000 bottle of rare French wine is the cure." Months later he'd come back and comment that I was right, that MonaVie was a scam.

Ms. Keane even addresses potential critics:

"Whenever skeptics debunk pseudo-science, nonsense treatments, or other questionable beliefs, there is always someone who will say 'what’s the harm' or 'why does it matter if someone believes that will cure them.'... What becomes of those people who spend their last months receiving IV urine derivatives, or forcing down juices while receiving coffee enemas, all while their life savings dwindle away? They die, and often, their families are left in severe debt, paying for the treatment that 'big pharma' doesn’t want you to know about."

Clearly the Burzynski scam of $120,000 a year does a lot more financial harm than MonaVie's $1500 or Protanim's $600. However, these MLMs just bleed people dry of their money slowly. Spending $1000 in product costs is just a start, because they suck into you a "business" where you are urged to buy tools and go to conferences which can cost a thousand or two more a year. The business is designed so that 99% of people must fail, but that's not exactly clear because it is hidden by a complex compensation plan. However, when it comes to selling tools and conferences, it's a lot easier to say, "You are failing because you aren't investing in yourself... so spend more money on these learning tools and events."

The Burzynski scam and the MLMs have one thing common and Ms. Keane does it justice:

"Pedalling false hope is a charlatans game, practised by the lowest of the low. They prey on people who have found themselves in desperate situations, and who have found themselves low on hope. They take advantage of vulnerable people, and leave them financially destitute, and once again, hopeless. Sometimes, the nonsense they sell (whether it is a physical product, or the promise of the metaphysical divine) is so laughable that it’s easy to forget that it’s not a victimless crime."

She concludes the article in a beautiful way, but since I already quoted her thrice, I imlore you to just read How much does hope cost?

I would love to to write another 500 words about follow up post as it may even be better than the one that I gushed about here, but I don't have the space. The article, Burzynski in Ireland; arguing with believers, summarizes a Twitter argument with an aspiring politician, Kate Bopp. Every argument that Kate Bopp used is one that I've seen an MLM scam artist use - simply lacking logic. She accuses Ms. Keane of being negative and being closed-minded. Years ago, I wrote two articles about those very accusations with regard to MonaVie: MonaVie and Negativity and Being Open-Minded About MonaVie.

Burzynski's "Lawyer", Marc Stephens, Bullies Critics with Threats of Defamation

I found out about the Burzynski Clinic because their lawyer decided to bully bloggers for writing their opinion on Burzynski. A better example of the Streisand effect would be tough to find. This "lawyer" (like Burzynski being a doctor, it isn't exactly clear whether he is a lawyer), a gentleman by the name of Marc Stephens has sent out a number of cease of desist letters in an attempt to get the criticism removed from the Internet. Here are three bloggers who have received and publicly posted the letters. If you enjoy reading other people's nonsensical logic as much as I do you'll find them quite entertaining:

I almost feel bad for calling these letters entertaining. In reality it quite sad that these bloggers have to deal with such crap. In all letters the blogger conducted himself more professionally than the "lawyer." In the first and third letter, the blogger did what I would say is the right thing and asked for the specific details even bringing up the point that in their country there is a "pre-action defamation protocol" which requires the lawyer to specifically state the offending content in the article rather than just make a wide-sweeping statement that the entire article is false.

For me the highlight in the second article was the bringing up of Munchausen Syndrome and the sexist quote that it is usually attributed to females. He gives a link to the Mayo Clinic that mentions nothing of it being gender-related in any way. Wikipedia also has no mention of any relation to gender. In addition, the person in the second article didn't pretend to be sick or injured at all. It would be difficult to be more mistaken than Marc Stephens was here.

The third bullet point above is the one that a trusted friend emailed me about. That's what got me interested in the story. A 17 year old blogger conducting himself amazingly when this lawyer tried to bully him inappropriately. I always thought that I matured at a young age, but this Rhys Morgan is ridiculously mature and brilliant to stand up to this. It was only in reading that article that I found the other articles that were equally bad.

I've been when these bloggers are before. MonaVie has sent me two legal threats in an attempt to get me to take down my post about how they are scamming people. Also, One24 Threatened to Sue Me for Defamation. In each case, I responded publicly to such threats as each of these bloggers did. It's become clear to me the game of these "lawyers" is to bully people with legal threats rather than address carefully constructed criticism. When One24 failed with their bullying tactic, they at least attempted to respond to such criticism with a podcast - unfortunately the the podcast failed to appropriately address any of the criticism and only further proved my point that One24 is a scam and I'm willing to go to court to prove that it is a pyramid scheme if they want (I have the FTC's guidelines on my side.)

If you've read this far, I applaud you. I know it's a lot to digest, but I hope you find it as entertaining and educational as I have. I hope that together we can spread the word and put an end to these scams - it will save people billions of dollars if we do.

P.S.

If I didn't give you enough to read on the Burzynski scam, here's one more that I couldn't really fit into the article: Stanislaw Burzynski and the great peptide cancer debacle.

Last updated on October 13, 2015.

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21 Responses to “Burzynski Cancer Clinic Scam”

  1. Tommy Z says:

    “Pedalling false hope is a charlatans game, practised by the lowest of the low. They prey on people who have found themselves in desperate situations, and who have found themselves low on hope. They take advantage of vulnerable people, and leave them financially destitute, and once again, hopeless. Sometimes, the nonsense they sell (whether it is a physical product, or the promise of the metaphysical divine) is so laughable that it’s easy to forget that it’s not a victimless crime.”

    This reminds me of a certain political candidate in 2008 that will be seeking re-election in 2012. Can anybody guess who that is?

  2. Vogel says:

    Great article LM. This story is breaking fast. Today, Rhys Morgan was given his own column in The Guardian, and Burzynski’s office issued a half-assed press release confirming that Marc Stephens was in fact hired by the clinic to do damage control (i.e., harass and threaten bloggers).
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/nov/30/burzynski-clinic-cancer-libel-laws
    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0BzijOpjuex1bMjE4N2JjOGItZGFlOS00NDE0LTk2YzktMThkYjFiOTU2YjNl&hl=en_US

    I did a bit of followup research on Burzynski’s hit man Marc Stephens. Several bloggers had pointed out that he was listed as the contact for “Management and Sponsorship”) on the website of an organization that goes by the name of Burzynski Patient Group. This “patient group” is registered to Mary Jo Siegel (in Pacific Palisades, CA), a former patient of Burzynski’s who seems to have become his “unofficial” PR person.
    http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/burzynskipatientgroup.org

    Looking at the content posted throughout the site’s history, it seems pretty clear that Siegel was operating with Burzynski’s knowledge, input, and blessing.

    There are archived versions of the site dating back to November 1998, which seems to be roughly when the group was established. Stephens’ name first shows up on the contact list in July of 2011 (I couldn’t find any reference to Stephens in archived versions of the website from Q1 2011).
    http://web.archive.org/web/20110725112656/http://www.burzynskipatientgroup.org/contact-us

    Interestingly, June-July 2011 was roughly around the same time that anonymous IPs began to launch a whitewash assault on the Wikipedia entries on Burzynski and antineoplastons.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Stanislaw_Burzynski&offset=20111128231254&limit=500&action=history
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Antineoplaston&limit=500&action=history

    It’s very revealing to see how this alleged man of science appears to be using astroturfers and trolls as part of a covert campaign of disinformation and intimidation of critics.

  3. Vogel says:

    I found an absolutely appalling letter written on Burzynki’s behalf by one of his partners in crime, Julian Whitaker. It was written no later than 2001, possibly earlier. Here it is.
    http://web.archive.org/web/20010405135917/http://www.burzynskipatientgroup.org/rebuttal.htm

    To Whom it May Concern:

    I am a physician in Newport Beach, California. I wish to communicate to the court that the Burzynski case is quite different from most of the cases that have come before you, and is likely more important than most you will ever see. It will be decided on points of law, but I wish to articulate the primary reason why Stanislaw Burzynski, a mild-mannered, highly educated and skilled physician, now stands before you to be judged in a criminal proceeding. It is because he has discovered a cure for cancer, or rather the direction that can now be taken, if the advancement is allowed to live, that will convert cancer from the most dreaded disease of our era, to a moderate inconvenience.

    In the last two months I visited the Burzynski Clinic on two occasions. I went through his highly sophisticated pharmaceutical facility where the antineoplastons are made. This facility is regularly inspected by the standards and procedures arm of the FDA, the same arm that inspects the giant pharmaceutical firms. Burzynski’s operation rates higher than government requirements, and with this arm of the FDA, he is held in high regard.

    I have reviewed charts of many patients and have looked at their before and after scans. I talked to many by phone, and spoke with their physicians as well. I can assure you that if you were to do the same thing, you would realize that Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski has discovered a cure (though not total) for cancer. This discovery is the primary reason he is now before you in a criminal proceeding.

    True cultural advancement is never smooth. It is always bumpy. This is because true advancement requires that an accepted paradigm be replaced with a discovery that more accurately defines reality. The accepted paradigm is always fiercely defended and the resistance to the discovery always incorporates the financial, political and legal institutions of the culture. For instance, the germ theory of disease depended on Louis Pasteur’s successful treatment of Louis Meister, a 7 year old who had contracted rabies. If the child died, Pasteur would have been executed, and that advancement would have been postponed for an indefinite period. The discovery that the earth is round took centuries to replace the accepted paradigm of a flat earth.

    In the legal profession, true advancement is no different. The birth of this country was illegal and brought on armed conflict. The notion that one man should not own another caused this country’s bloodiest war to date.

    Burzynski’s discovery is that cancer results from faulty genetic activity that, to a great extent, can be controlled by simple nontoxic naturally occurring peptide particles that either turn on or off cancer-producing genetic activity. In short, if this discovery is allowed to survive and develop, antineoplastons will be to cancers in the future what antibiotics are to bacterial infections today.

    The paradigm that would be replaced or dramatically altered by development of this discovery is that cancer must be controlled by purging the body of the cancer cells. Surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are the cultural expression of this currently accepted paradigm.

    What I wish to communicate to you is that cultural advancements are not a given. The adage that “the truth will out” is simply not true. Eastern Europe is recovering from two or three generations where cultural advancement was virtually illegal. That damage is permanent, regardless of their recovery rate. As I view it, laws in a free, democratic society are implemented to nurture and facilitate cultural advancement. But the system is not perfect. When a true discovery comes along that requires alteration or replacement of an accepted paradigm, these same laws will be used to stop such. Historically, this has always been true.

    In addition, it is a medical fact that if those currently taking antineoplastons are deprived of their source, they will die. If the discovery is not allowed to develop, hundreds of thousands of more will die as a result. I pray that you will not choose, on points of law, to halt what I truly believe is a major advancement for our culture.

    Whatever your decision, it will be a historic one.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Julian Whitaker, MD
    ——–

    So tell us Jules, now that 10 years has passed, where is that promised “cure” that will be as important as antibiotics and make cancer nothing more than an “inconvenience”? Grrr…what an irresponsible jackass!

  4. […] Man at Lazy Man and Money presents Burzynski Cancer Clinic Scam, saying “Today, I’d like to spread awareness about the Burzynski Cancer Clinic scam. […]

  5. Ben There says:

    I can’t get the link to How much does hope cost? to work. This is an excellent site. How many do you have LazyMan?

  6. Kate says:

    How can all of you be so ignorant? Burzynski is not lazy he has been fighting for over three decades with his cure. When the FDA finally approved it and the government STOLE his patents is when it had finally been acknowledged. He has saved many of lives. The government trials have killed many more. Now that his treatments have been approved the government REQUIRES that patients must undergo radiation before treatment. Leaving the success rate much lower. Instead of “dissing” this genious, we should all be thanking him for his own personal practice.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Kate,

      Can you tell us which of Burzynski’s treatments the FDA has approved and which of the patents the government stole? It would be irresponsible to make accusations like this without proof.

      Please provide the details of the government trials killing people that you speak of.

      Also please point to government regulation that patients must undergo radiation as part of any treatment.

      You need to bring many more reputable sources to the discussion for your comment to be taken seriously.

  7. Kate says:

    I watched the documentary and then did some research. You should too.

    http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/burzynski-the-movie-cancer-is-serious-business/

    There is a little bit of information on there. But you should really watch the documentary.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Kate, you know that film is produced by Burzynski, right?

      Pretty much everyone in the medical community is on board with his “trials” being a scam. It’s not like it is close where 40% of people think he might be on to something. It is literally 1 guy saying it works, with 30 years of trials that haven’t shown any progression against millions.

  8. Becky says:

    LM did you actually see the documentary for yourself? I think if you did you would see why as you said,” “Pretty much everyone in the medical community is on board with his “trials” being a scam.” Certainly pretty much everyone in the medical community is against any alternative cancer cure since these are threats to the multi- billion dollar cancer industry.

    • Lazy Man says:

      I started to watch it, but it was clear that it was produced by Burzynski (if memory serves, maybe it was an obvious supporter). This very detailed scientific review makes the point that not only doesn’t have many scientific flaws, it is essentially an infomercial.

      I don’t buy the conspiracy theory about threats to the cancer “industry” for a few reasons:

      1) There’s an HIV, heart disease, and other “industries” for doctors to work on. They wouldn’t lose their jobs or be out of work.
      2) Anyone can do the clinical trials and independently publish them for public consumption. If there are 10,000 people who have been cured of cancer, it would be very hard to ignore.
      3) Anyone can do these in any country in the world. If there’s a big conspiracy in the United States with the FDA, take the cure to the EU and get it approved there. The conspiracy theory would have to say that every country is working together on it. If you really think every country can come to that kind of agreement, well I’ve got a bridge to sell you.
      4) If there was a cancer cure just lying around, certainly the doctors who have parents who are dying of cancer would be using that cure. The secret would get out.

  9. Gordon says:

    I did not go far into this article when it started with “and he may not even be a doctor.” If you are going to do an article on this guy, can’t you even do your research. Makes me think the rest is just going to be opinion. No thanks.

    • Lazy Man says:

      If you are going to start reading an article, can’t you even finish it? Makes me think that you aren’t interested in learning about Burzynski.

  10. Kelly Clover says:

    Most people have made the mistake of assuming that everything has to be black and white. If people would take the time to review the available evidence, they would realize that some of Dr. Burzinski’s patients have indeed benefited from the treatment, others were harmed, and others just wasted money on a treatment that made no difference. The FDA, the CDC, and other governments agencies are severely corrupted by powerful special interests who only care about their own selfish financial interests. The government cannot be trusted to do what is right.
    What is right is approve the antineoplaston treatment with the understanding that some patients will benefit and others will be harmed or just waste their money trying it. The clinical trials should not have been restricted to those who previously had unsuccessful conventional treatment.
    The FDA and other government agencies will never do what is right because money talks.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Kelly, there’s really no evidence that I can see that anyone has been helped by Burzinski. If you believe in a conspiracy theory about a corrupt US government (FDA, CDC), he can take his treatment center to another country. There are a couple hundred for him to choose.

  11. william R. Servideo says:

    I’ve watched both films.You did not cite or refer to any of his trials involving incurable Cancer Glioma Cancer of The Brain and his results.The FDA is no longer a Federal Government agebcy.The Pharnecceutical companys pay large fees tto them to expedite drugs and radiation treatments and chemotherapy that has been proven to to destry tumors along with the patients.You are saying that his trials and Mri,s of Tumors that have disapeared with no horrible side effects are a hoax ,and that he has fabricated all his proof …like an amazing charlatan.He was subjected to 5 Grand Juries no indictment …You said nothing about his work and the theft of his patents all all using erroneous protocols.The most egregious sin is pure slander.Did you even watch his documentary’s showing so many protesters.The last The FDA Pharma Big Pharmaceutical company’s and so much invested invested in Cancer research…Big Money woud fall like a house of cards …They tried to put this man in prison for 300 years and fine him 180,,000.00 dollars based on technicalities without allowing any testimony involving the efficacy or safety of his methods …I ask anyone who reads this response to simply watch his documentary’s and decide for your self who the real criminals are!!!

    • Lazy Man says:

      You didn’t address that if the FDA did get the money from pharmaceutical companies (not “Pharnecceutical companys”), we’d have to get them from government and hence raise everyone’s taxes. Do you want to pay more taxes to fund the FDA or are you happier with pharmaceutical companies paying their fair share for what the FDA resources they use?

      Pearls before swine, no need to cover the rest.

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