In this clip from tonight’s BBC Panorama, Dr Burzynski makes some rather bold and misleading claims about antineoplastons. I think he could be lying.
Firstly, Burzynski claims that antineoplastons can cure cancer… but not in everybody. Of course, he has no reliable evidence to support this statement and is not allowed to make such claims in his advertising.
When asked how many patients he has treated and how many have survived, Burzynski claims that he is not able to reveal this information yet because phase II clinical trials were completed just a few months ago.
If this is true, he really ought to update his entries on clinicaltrials.gov. According to that, in over sixty trials, only one has ever been completed (in 2005) and none have been published.
When reporter Richard Bilton explains that the FDA had said that Burzynski is actually allowed to give details of the trials, Burzynski argues that he cannot. When Bilton tries to press the issue, Burzynski replies…
You look like a bright man but you’re asking me the same question again and again. Are you catching Alzheimer’s disease or what?
He then gestures towards the wall at some “publications” and suggests to Bilton that perhaps one day he will get a brain tumour and will want this treatment.
According to Burzynski, people who accuse him of selling false hope are foolish. He asks how would the US government have allowed him to continue for so long without hard evidence?
I would argue that the regulators have been negligent.
Burzynski set up his clinic in 1977. Since then, he has provided no good evidence that antineoplastons work. On the other hand, there has been plenty of evidence that the treatments can have serious side effects. For example, in 1998, the FDA reported that hypernatraemia was noted in 65% of the 404 patients participating in a study and it may have contributed to the deaths of at least seven patients.
When Bilton points out that the drug is not yet approved, Burzynski claims…
The drugs will be approved very soon.
Oh no they won’t.
They aren’t even allowed to use them in “clinical trials” any more.
Have a look at this document, under the section headed Partial Clinical Hold on Phase II and Phase III Clinical Trials. As we’d seen here, there was a serious adverse event last summer. The FDA then stopped allowing Burzynski to enrol children onto the trials. Following an unsatisfactory response to this, the FDA imposed further holds, meaning that no new patients can be enrolled on the clinical trials.
Far from approving the drugs, it looks like the FDA could finally be doing their job.
Should you wish to look into Burzynski in more detail, my Burzynski Master List contains a comprehensive and up to date list of links.