Predictions and hopes about Panorama on Burzynski

I don’t have any special insight into Monday’s airing of Panorama’s documentary into Dr. Burzynski. If I did I could be a bit more definitive in this post. That said, I feel fairly certain that I can make the following prediction.

Unless Burzynski openly admits during the show that he knows it’s all a bit of a scam, that he’s deliberately not released trail data to the peer review process, that he charges massive amounts for a treatment that he knows there’s no good evidence for, that he admits that he’s exploited loopholes in FDA procedures to keep it all going as long as he has, that he openly lies to patients about potential success and how treatments are progressing, then not a lot is going to change. Well not immediately, anyway.

Nothing short of a full admittance of fraud and deception will change the minds of many. Even then, there will be some “true believers” that will argue that it was spin, he was tricked or that he was forced into saying it.

In the extremely unlikely event that this did happen, unless he shut-up-shop himself, it would still be up to the State and Federal regulatory bodies to do something about the clinic. A process that has been fairly ineffective in regards to Burzynski in the past.

For me Panorama represents another, significantly larger, foot in the door. In the same way as Marc Stephens drew the attention of many skeptics with his ridiculous legal threats to Wayne and Lisa Merritt and others [1][2][3], Panorama will hopefully raise awareness to a whole different level. Adding yet more pressure to the clinic and its dubious behaviours.

Because Burzynski has failed to produce one single trial, that has then been through the publication peer-review process, in over 30 years and yet still feels that he can treat people with varying claims to efficacy, he leaves rational and logical people with very little room to come to any other conclusion, but that his claims can not be substantiated.

While no good evidence has ever been produced to show that antineoplaston therapy is efficacious in the treatment of any of the many and varied cancers that the clinic treat, people still go there. For many it’s the last and only hope they feel they have.

My hope is that Panorama will help people realise that ‘false hope’ is all the clinic offer. That, in the most trying and difficult of personal circumstances, potential patients don’t waste the last months of their lives and financially burden themselves.

I have little doubt you’ll see why this is an issue that’s important in the UK and Ireland. There have been many British patients over the last few years. Amelia Saunders, a beautiful and charismatic young girl by all accounts, only recently passed away. Her parents have mentioned their involvement with Panorama and I would expect to see them featured. As a parent myself, it’s hard to imagine the heartbreak they must feel. I hope that their story will allow for two things to happen. Firstly, make you understand why they made the choices they did and that they were doing everything they thought they possibly could do save their daughter. While I ultimately disagree that there was ever any real hope to be received at the clinic, I totally understand their desperate fight for life. Secondly, to make you realise that this is an important issue in the UK. People from this country are directly affected by a man in Texas, who refuses to either release the data or close down. A 35 year long ‘no mans land’ of “wait and see”. A place where promised data goes to die and sadly, so do many, many patients.

My main hope is that the so far very limited public discussion about Dr Stanislaw Burzynski becomes a very large and important one. I want to see public figures taking up this cause and talking about it. It’s a big hope, but at least my hope has the potential to become a reality.

For those unfamiliar with Burzynski I’ve written down a few recommendations for reading material, people to contact, a good introductory podcast etc. This can all be found here.

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2 Responses

  1. June 2, 2013

    […] Predictions and hopes about Panorama on Burzynski┬áDavid James, SKEPT!CAL blog, East England Skeptical Society, 31/05/13 […]

  2. June 3, 2013

    […] – I’ve added a couple more posts about this. The first covers some thoughts about the show and the other has some more details about the stories you can expect to see in the […]

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