There's a stoush going on in the blogosphere and on Twitter at the moment over the Burzynski clinic in Texas, which peddles an treatment called "antineoplastons" as a miracle cure for some cancers. What they don't tell you is that antineoplastons remain experimental at best, and have no good trial data to back their deployment and that antineoplastons are deployed alongside conventional chemotherapy drugs - raising the question as to what actual chemical is the active treatment in cases with remission (if any).
There is an account on Twitter called "BurzynskiSaves" (link withheld) which is attempting to engage me in "discussion". I say "attempting", since its tweets are usually semi-literate and show a lack of grasp of the issues at hand. Some examples will live here while I draft a blog post on the subject
OK. There's a couple of major problems here
1. I never told any "girl w brain tumour" to fuck off
2. There is no proof that the user behind the account that Peter Bowditch told to "fuck off" was actually the victim, since that account is known to be controlled by multiple people behind the scenes
3. The account had provoked Bowditch in the leadup to the incident, and no doubt peter will be posting shortly on the subject. I'll let him manage his own defence rather than putting words into his mouth
So, as much as I hate to shout libel, this tweet is libellous. BurzynskiSaves fails it.
And, of course, I find it far less abhorrent to say "fuck off" than to fleece desperate patients for hundreds of thousands of dollars for an untested treatment.
UPDATE: BurzynskiSaves has backed down. Though I'm not the only person he played the CC trick on
Some problems with this tweet:
1. No proof is offered of this anecdote
2. If this is true, I assume the Anderson hospital is offering proven, licenced treatments, not experimental and controversial 'antineoplastons'
3. "Everyone else is doing it" is not a valid defence in questions of ethics. In the following tweet, BurzynskiSaves strongly implies that the outlined scenario here is unethical. So why is OK for Burzynski to do it?
Not relevant. Changing the topic to the ethics of a non-profit hospital rather than the Burzynski clinic? Nice work, there, BurzynskiSaves.
So? The US system is broken, therefore all bets are off? Balderdash.
The problem here
is in the case of overseas patients, notably UK patients. They can get conventional treatment funded at home for, basically, no cost. But The Burzynski clinic aggressively markets their untested treatment to them with no actual proof it works, and charges desperate people phenomenal sums of money.
That cancer treatment is expensive is not the main issue. That an untested treatment is being deployed through a loophole in clinical trials regulations IS. The cost, while scandalous, is secondary to this genuine problem. BurzynskiSaves lacks the nuance to realise this.Bottom line: If this treatment really works, then Burzynski should be able to find funding to run his clinical trials like genuine clinical trials - without a significant cost to his trial subjects - and get the data published. At that point, he's free to charge whatever he likes. It is unethical to be charging patients such absurd amounts and then writing them up as trial subjects.
more to follow...