UPDATE 27/01/12) ITV Viewer Services replied today (details here).
UPDATE (25/01/12) ITV Viewer Services replied on 28th December to say that the email below has been passed to the Daybreak production team for a response. There has been no further response so I have just sent the following to ITV Viewer Services and the Daybreak team:
I’m concerned that I have still had no response from the Daybreak team to my email of 23rd December (copied below).
I find it very worrying that Dr Hilary Jones presented this highly dubious clinic in such a favourable light, even brushing off the well known legal problems by stating that ‘pioneers in medicine tend to get a rough ride to begin with’. This was appalling and deserves attention.
Since my last email, it has come to light that a former patient of the clinic is seeking damages from Dr Burzynski (and his companies) for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, deceptive trade and conspiracy. She says that the defendants failed to disclose that her treatment was part of a clinical trial and charged her $500 per pill for drugs she could buy elsewhere for a fraction of that price.
I think it important that you address my concerns.
As has already been discussed here and here, Wednesday’s Daybreak show on ITV featured five-year-old cancer sufferer, Chiane Cloete and her father. They appeared on the show alongside in-house doctor Hilary Jones, to discuss Chiane’s proposed treatment at the Burzynski Clinic and her fundraising campaign.
While it was clear that ITV had done some background research and were aware of some of the controversy, I was shocked by the feature and emailed firstname.lastname@example.org with the following:
I write to express concern about recent coverage of the Burzynski Clinic and Chiane Cloete’s fundraising campaign (Daybreak, 21/12/11).
I don’t wish to criticise Chiane’s family in any way – who I understand are in a very desperate situation and have my full sympathy. However, while I understand that the Daybreak piece was in support of her campaign, I found it distasteful, shocking and unnecessary that Chiane herself – a very poorly five-year-old girl, had to sit and listen to such a discussion about her predicament – which under the circumstances was never going to be open and objective.
I also found the comments by Dr Hilary Jones to be highly misleading, irresponsible and misinformed.
As a blogger who has been keeping track of the main issues regarding the clinic and keeping up to date with developments, I am well aware of the various legal and ethical issues surrounding the clinic, some of them very serious. For some considerable time, I have been dismayed and frustrated that the British media have so far failed to report these adequately. I was therefore impressed that the Daybreak feature opened with the presenters pointing out that Burzynski’s treatment is controversial, that it is not recognised by the US authorities and that Burzynski has been tried with fraud.
I am also well aware that the Burzynski Clinic have been carrying out clinical trials for over thirty years, without ever publishing data in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. I was therefore outraged to hear Dr Hilary Jones describe the treatment as ‘experimental’ and ‘pioneering research’, even explaining away Burzynski’s various brushes with the law by stating that ‘pioneers in medicine tend to get a rough ride to begin with’. As a Health Editor on the show and a qualified doctor, it is his duty to be properly informed and to be balanced and objective. Viewers are likely to trust his judgement. Because of his either ill-informed or ill-judged remarks, I believe that overall, the feature was presenting this highly controversial clinic in a very favourable light.
In general, I have strong concerns about misleading promotional health stories, which I believe appear in the media all too often. I usually conclude emails like this by saying that health or science pieces should be overseen by someone with a specialism in that area. Paradoxically in this case, it was the Health Editor himself who was at fault.
I would welcome your comments on any of these issues.