Parents must raise $375,000 to take Jesse to US for radical treatment

Thanks to ‘Trouble‘ for pointing out Matthew Theunissen’s article ‘Hope for toddler with rare tumour’ in today’s NZ Herald. Surprise, surprise, it’s about that bastion of radical cancer therapy, the Burzynski clinic. Here is my letter to the editor. Feel free to add your own! Thanks also to Orac for links and inspiration.

I was very disappointed to read Matthew Theunissen’s article ‘Hope for toddler with rare tumour’ (March 2, 2012) about the Bessant family who are trying to raise $375,000 to take their son to the USA for a ‘radical’ cancer treatment. The article contained a major inaccuracy; the antineoplaston therapy offered by the Burzynski Clinic is not a new cancer therapy. In fact, Dr. Burzynski has been ‘trialling’ his antineoplastons (which he now actually combines with chemotherapy in a pretence of ‘personalised medicine’) for over thirty years and has never produced strong evidence that his approach actually cures patients or increases their chances of long-term survival.

There are two important things that the Bessant family and their supporters need to know before putting their faith (and a huge amount of money) in Dr. Burzynski. The first is that patients do not pay huge sums of money to receive treatment on legitimate clinical trials. In contrast, they are often reimbursed for their time or out of pocket expenses. The second is that the Texas Medical Board will soon be convening hearings to examine a number of charges against Dr. Burzynski*, including failure to meet standard of care, negligence, lack of informed consent, unprofessional conduct and nontherapeutic prescribing.

For decades now Dr. Burzynski has been accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from desperate people who he has hoodwinked into believing he is their last hope. Like the parents of Brynlin Sanders who has just died two months after returning home from the Burzynski clinic**. I urge the Blessant’s to do a little more research before putting their faith in someone like Dr. Burzynski.

*Texas Medical Board bulletin with list of charges against Dr. Burzynski

**Brynlin Sanders