This past Sunday, June 15, 2014, I attended a great talk by skeptical activist Professor Robert Blaskiewicz at the Center for Inquiry in Hollywood. Many of you know him through the weekly video podcast Virtual Skeptics, his blog posts on JREF Swift and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, his work on the Skeptical Humanities blog, and his websites exposing the Burzynski Clinic. And that was what his talk was about: He went into detail about the harm that the Burzynski Clinic in Houston, TX – led by Stanislaw Burzynski – has caused and what we can do about it.

Stanislaw Burzynski is a physician based out of Houston who administers a chemotherapy called “antineoplastons.” They have never, in 36 years, demonstrated efficacy or safety. Nonetheless, Burzynski charges patients hundreds of thousands of dollars for this unproven treatment. The way that it is framed is that they are entering “clinical trials,” but the man has never, ever published the final results of a single clinical trial…

He is not a trained oncologist, but he is treating cancer. He posits a novel mechanism for cancer (a patient’s lack of antineoplastons) that is unrecognized in the medical literature as a cause. His ANP is marketed as an alternative to chemotherapy, but he gives patients chemo cocktails mixed with “terrifying” doses of sodium phenylbutyrate, mixtures that have not been adequately tested for safety and which causes hypernatremia in his patients. He has sold ANP not only as a cancer treatment, but also as an HIV treatment, an unjustified action for which he was severely disciplined by the Texas Medical Board. – TOBPG

If you caught his powerful talk at TAM 2013, his CFI talk covered some of the same information. However, much has happened since then. Notably, USA Today ran a critical piece on Burzynski in November 2013. Prior to this article, the media attention on the clinic was more on human interest stories and less on consumer protection pieces, which Professor Blaskiewicz mentioned in his CSI piece. Not only was this media attention a means to inform current or potential patients of the negative aspects of the unproven cancer treatments, it has helped skeptics and other activists in writing to legislators. The Houston Cancer Quack website had existed about a year prior to the USA Today article, but after the article was published, the call to action became stronger.

Also prior to USA Today was the professor’s website called The Other Burzynski Patient Group. The clinic’s own website features stories of a select few patients giving positive reviews. TOBPG site has instead given a voice to the many more who have been harmed by the unproven treatments and of avoiding science-based treatments at evidence-based clinics. This not only gives the victims and their loved ones a voice, but it is viewable to the public and can be found by potential patients wanting to look up information on the clinic.

Much more information can be found here:

  • The Other Burzynski Patient Group
  • USA Today – Doctor accused of selling false hope to families
  • The Houston Cancer Quack
  • Antineoplaston Therapy –

  • And here is video of Professor Blaskiewicz’s talk at The Amazing Meeting last year:

    Thanks to CFI for hosting the talk on Sunday and to Professor Blaskiewicz for his continued hard work in education and activism.