Believe it or not, I’m going to do Eric Merola (who doesn’t particularly like me, to the point of thinking, apparently, that I’m a white supremacist who doesn’t like evidence but does like to eat puppies) a favor. Having been away at TAM, somehow I missed this. Well, actually, I didn’t miss it, but somehow I forgot to post it. Then when I got home I still forgot to post it. Now there are only three days left (four, counting today) for me to do it; so I’d better get to it. My having forgotten to do this is particularly amazing given the subject of my main stage talk at TAM.
Eric Merola, as you recall, is a filmmaker who was responsible for two propaganda films about Stanislaw Burzynski, the dubious cancer doctor who has used “antineoplastons” to treat cancer without having published any decent clinical trial evidence that they do what he claims. Back in 2010, he released the first of a not-so-dynamic duo of films, the first of which was called Burzynski The Movie: Cancer Is A Serious Business (or B1, as I like to call it). The movie didn’t do much for a year or more, but then über-quack Joe Mercola promoted it, and somehow Eric Merola landed an interview with Dr. Oz on his radio show. The sequel, the slightly less pretentiously titled Burzynski: Cancer Is A Serious Business, Part 2 (or B2, as I like to call it), was then released June 1 on various pay-per-view modes. As has been pointed out, it’s no better than the first, and it features direct attacks on the skeptics who had the temerity to criticized Burzynski and Merola over the last couple of years.
Merola is apparently trying to recreate the success of his previous strategy, which involved letting people watch the movie online for free for limited periods of time on quack websites like Mercola.com. I won’t link directly to the Mercola.com link to the second Burzynski movie, because I don’t want to give Mercola any more Google juice than he already has. The movie is, however, on Vimeo until July 20:
If you want to see what the fuss was about and whether my criticisms of the movie were valid, now’s your chance. If you want to see the hilarious attack on skeptics, it begins around 1:19 h into the movie. Yes, I’m encouraging you to watch B2. It’s a beautiful example of all the things that we tried to inculcate TAM attendees against a few short days ago. Indeed, dissecting this propaganda magnum opus is an excellent way to teach oneself critical thinking, much as dissecting creationist tripe is.
Other key points include:
- Laura Hymas interview and the recording of her discussion with her oncologist (approximately 0:28 h in). This section is horrifying (to me, at least) to watch, as I can’t help but feel how dicey and ethical situation that poor oncologist found himself in was, with Hymas and her family demanding that he help her be part of one of Burzynski’s “clinical trials” by agreeing to be the local physician and agreeing to order various scans.
- The end of the story of Amelia Saunders (approximately 0:58 h in). This is one where Merola caused me true revulsion, as he basically implied that Amelia died because her parents took her off the antineoplastons.
- Hideaki Tsuda’s clinical trial (approximately 1:31 h in). One still wonders why he didn’t bother to publish.
Those of you who can stand to watch it, let me know what you think. Those of you who can only watch part of it, let me know what you think of that section. Remember, though. This video will only be online free until July 20.
52 replies on “In which Orac does Stanislaw Burzynski propagandist Eric Merola a favor…”
Thank you for this Orac. I was hoping it would appear online for free.
I’ll watch it on vimeo.
I think it is possible to link without boosting google rankings through the “no-follow command”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nofollow I learned about this from Bob Blaskiewicz, who proposed that we use this when linking to dubious websites in our posts.
Yes, Google does honor “no-follow”, as well as all robot files. Other web crawlers may or may not; honoring those things is entirely voluntary.
the video keeps crashing my browser…. even Firefox can’t stand bullshit apparently.
I believe links in comments posted here automatically have a no-follow tag added.
I have found out the title of the next film –
“Burzynski III: First Piss”.
I’m not entirely convinced. If I am correct, this site is on a a wordpress platform. I took a quick glimpse at the comments on Anaximperator. The links posted in full – like the one I posted in my comment above – have no “no-follow tag” attached. The ones where a link is “embedded” in the text does indeed have a “no-follow” tag”.
This blog does add a ‘no-follow’ tag, even to ‘naked’ links. The source code of the link in your comment, for example, is:
<a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nofollow” rel=”nofollow”>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nofollow</a>
I thought I was being clever using ampersand codes to replace greater than and less than signs, and forgot that the http itself would screw up the parsing I intended. Oh well, my point is clear enough.
I was reduced to watching it on Mercola’s site because of computer issues. Mercola seemed to be nothing more than a lazy cheerleader; he merely parroted all of the Merola/Burzynski talking points, (although he “interviewed Dr. Burzynski in 2011”). His conclusion, with no evident research beyond that interview and watching the movies, was that:
“Dr. Burzynski has developed a cancer treatment that surpasses all other treatments on the market today, and the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry knows it.”
What tripe. I don’t think he understands it any better than Merola, the ad man.
Oh yeah, I couldn’t resist sharing this from near the top of the Mercola comment section in which the commenter was concerned that Burzynski has been denied being published because of his alternative views:
“We now have, privately published for just this reason, Dr Hulda Clark, who was criminally prosecuted for FRAUD, when she tried to publish. her latest and last work, in 2007, (She won the case), ‘The Cure and Prevention of All Cancers’,. Dr Clark carried out over half a million repeatable, so scientifically VALID bio-resonance tests. She died recently from injuries sustained in a car crash, caused by a .mysterious. brake failure.”
And back to the topic of the movie: the skeptic section in all its theatrical stupidity, caused me to perk up and try to see what Orac wrote, and what Bob said. The only thing of value in the whole thing!
Ooohhh, mysterious brake failure! Someone from the pharma-medical complex obviously tampering with her brake lines!
Except that she died of plasma cell myeloma (AKA multiple myeloma), which is a clonal neoplasm (in other words cancer) of the bone marrow involving plasma cells. This doesn’t have a hell of a lot do do with brake failure, mysterious or otherwise.
Watched the “Skeptic” part. That was funny. Funny like a Joe Friday anti-drug/hippie lecture on an old episode of Dragnet.
They got one thing right, I’ve looped that ominous background music and play it whenever I’m skeptic-ing and counting my big pharma money.
Speaking of the money, Orac, where’s my check?
“Ooohhh, mysterious brake failure! Someone from the pharma-medical complex obviously tampering with her brake lines!”
No no no. It was Colonel Mustard in the study with the candle stick.
A brake failure can cause multiple myeloma? Who knew–better get my car into the shop
As usual, Stan-the-Man Burzynski still hasn’t bothered trying to publish findings or even conclude any of the 60 or so Phase II trials. Why not, Stanny-Boy ? Come clean!
You were/are. I looked in a completely wrong place. Also the open links in the comments on Anaximperator has the no-follow tag when you look at them in the source code.
Hey, don’t diss Dragnet. While the 1960s reincarnation was indeed pretty square and clearly out of touch with its times (the show should probably never have been resurrected), the 1950s version, particularly the radio show, told first class stories, some of which were surprisingly dark and realistic for the time. One episode from Christmas 1949, for instance, “.22 Rifle for Christmas,” portrayed the consequences after a child opens his Christmas present prematurely and his friend is accidentally shot to death. Other episodes dealt with drugs, prostitution, and murder at a level of realism that was startling to me the first time I heard the episodes compared to other TV shows and movies of the time. Many of these episodes, including the TV version of “.22 Rifle for Christmas,” are available on Archive.org.
Hey, Joe Friday never beat a confession out of a suspect or interviewed a minor without a responsible adult present. On both radio and TV he was a dedicated, hard working guy who lived for his job.
Of course, the best takes on Dragnet were done by Stan Freberg.
Hey, I loved Dragnet!
Friday would have wrapped up the Case of the Mysterious Brake Failure within an hour – and in black-and-white, too!
Duuuum Da DumDum…
This is the countryside, my name is St. George, I’m a knight. Saturday, July 10th, 8:05 p.m. I was working out at the castle out on the night watch when a call came in from the chief: A dragon had been devouring maidens. Homicide. My job: Slay ’em.
I’m pretty sure, “scientifically VALID bio-resonance tests” are an oxymoron. I just love pseudoscientific modalities that are proven to be effective using pseudoscientific gadgets. As I recall, Clark’s Synchronometer was some kind of radionics device i.e. it relied entirely on the the subjective responses of the operator, a sort of pseudo-high tech form of applied kinesiology/ouija board. At least her zapper actually did something, even if it didn’t kill imaginary parasites (or anything else) as she claimed.
The movie is a bit repetitious, like Chris’ shocking stage I CRC treatment. I think some of Orac’s criticism is hair trigger sensitive and interpretive on some movie statements that are factual but terse. Perhaps right, but speculative and partisan in nature between critic and adversary.
Several issues leap out at me:
1. Patient rights to select unsubsidized treatment without interference, especially in hopeless circumstances, whether we agree with those choices or not. Especially if the patient has clearly exercised some degree of due diligence.
2. What constitutes subsidy, and what is due by equity. I was shocked that the NHS oncologist would withhold scans and blood tests commensurate with monitoring for normal treatments, independent of any drug administration. Totally disagree with that.
3. Oversight and assessment records for new drugs. The FDA doesn’t have it right and neither does Burzynski.
Please note, I don’t agree with B’s treatment and business philosophies, I don’t like the hype, I don’t like the insane prices and I don’t like the missing results. But I could say several of these things about regular medicine too.
So curiosity got the better of me, and I went back to the Mercola website comments to see what the “natural” crowd felt about Burzynski. Orac had previously posed the question about what they would think if they knew Dr. B’s treatments were basically chemo, and the answer unfolded.
The comments began with Burzynski support, and speculation about what would happen when he takes over the cancer industry and everything changes (it was suggested that scientists will have to flee and seek sanctuary from other nations). But then people began to search Burzynski, his use of chemo was called out, and the conversation turned to questioning why Mercola is endorsing him; that he missed the boat on this one. Orac and TOBPG were prominently quoted or linked (along with some spittle-spewing hardcore posts against them, with cries to “just watch the film!). Former patients chimed in: one gentleman told how his wife died, they were bilked out of all their money, along with many others they knew who were very angry with the clinic and considered Burzynski a crook who preyed on people.
A woman, Krissalee 85, said:
“I have brain cancer and am a member of some support groups. I have heard from a few of Dr. Burzynski’s former patients and most did not have good things to say. They said the costs were exorbitant, the staff was uncaring and the treatment was ineffective. This has made me wary of him. He did act odd in the BBC interview.”
Of course there was plenty of talk back, but what was clear was that the scienced-based bloggers have had an effect on Burzynski’s world. Not that the Mercola crowd is sympathetic; they mostly turned their attention to exploring other natural treatments (including some real doozies), with others willing to try Burzynski. But there seems to be a big chink in the Burzynski armor with the anti-chemo people who frequent Mercola.com. I don’t think it went the way Eric Merola planned. Kudos to Orac and others.
Tone trolling duly noted.
Oh great, the Ascorbic Arsetip back.
As has been pointed out, ooh, every time the lie about the eeevil NHS withholding tests and treatment is trotted out, it’s utter bollocks.
Standard monitoring is performed, but what cannot be done, by law, is administration,or advice thereon, of drugs not legally able to be prescribed in the U.K. They also cannot interpret anything other than what the tests show, and cannot advise anything that is not standard practice. If blood tests show elevated sodium they cannot say “Halve your dose of piss infusion for a few days”. All they can do is advise that the “treatment” be stopped, and begin measures to lower the patient’s sodium levels.
The NHS has spent thousands of pounds mopping up the overspill from Burzynski’s buckets of toxic swill, and providing end-of-life care and support to patients and their families who were duped by that sick, twisted man and his ghoulish crew of enablers.
Luna Petagine is just one tragic, heartbreaking example of how hard the NHS works to save patients with devastating diagnoses*. But, as ever prn, you never let the facts get in the way of a dig at the nasty, staid old allopaths, do you?
*Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, known as GOSH, is a shining example of the dedication and professionalism of NHS clinicians and researchers. Their paediatric oncology department is beyond reproach, they will not stop at any reasonable measure to save a child’s life, and it sickens me to see the likes of Burzynski being mentioned on the same page as them, let alone disparaging them.
Hell, I’d take my kid to a. vet, sooner than subjecting them to the Houston Horror.
@prn – how is one supposed to perform “due-diligence” on Burnzynski if he refuses to publish his studies / results?
Do you believe in just “taking people’s word for it” when it comes to live and death medical decisions?
When I was in private veterinary practice, I OFTEN was requested to look at lesions, provide advice, suggest treatments, etc., for my human clients. Of course, I didn’t do any of those things, but sometimes I was sorely tempted, given what information they said their doctors had told them. But, it pointed out to me something I discovered for myself later on, when I, um, consumed a bit too much of our health care system–the medical community should explain things better, and putting it in a pamphlet for someone to read doesn’t cut it. I know that’s a very general thing to say, and of course there are very good communicators in the US medical community. But I STILL hear from my clients (who are now researchers) that they wish their doctors explained things as clearly as we vets do. I also have a vet surgeon on staff who can do surgery on me any time–he’s that good.
Disclaimer–the recent cholecystectomy I had was performed by a “real doctor.” It went well.
My vet, on a slow day, not just happily sat down and had a 20 minute conversation (after a routine exam) about the current knowledge regarding feline vaccines, but also called in one of the vet techs, who had already been getting this, to sit in on the somewhat higher-level exchange.
The closest I’ve had in the human system was a truly committed (D.O.) cardiologist whom I really miss. Get the APN trainee, get the med student somebody left lying around, we’re going to explain why a cardio is interested in urine. Fantastic.
One of the sections that caught my attention was one near the beginning, where a patient had been treated with chemotherapy for a stage 1 colon cancer.
Having seen what chemotherapy can do to advanced colon cancers (T3c and up) in the neoadjuvant setting, this is not as impressive as it sounds. Some of them have gone into complete remission at the time of surgery.
And I can assure you, that the idea to use neoadjuvant chemotherapy is in no way inspired by what Burzynski is doing (He is not really that well known among oncologists over here).
Even without the substantial coverage here at RI, there is a lot of negative information that undercuts B’s allure if one looks.
First is that outside of the deadlier brain cancers and perhaps one other cancer, even B’s own claims for antineoplasteons, as presented in the Elias book, have been underwhelming for some time now. I wouldn’t even need more trial data to discard or deprioritize ANP for most other cancers for myself.
Price shopping, one doesn’t need B to get the Caris tests done. B’s set up is recognizably not consumer friendly either.
At this point, his ongoing lack of delivery on phase 2 studies is something that has grown old for everybody, and should be a yellow or red flag for all.
Even with brain cancers, desperate people find other promising experimental alternatives or CAM avenues doing their due diligence. A classmate from a long time ago had a son with a terminal brain cancer dx in the 1990s. He packed up, went to California and got lasting results with protons. The other cancer center oncologists were busy poo-pooing it right up until they bought their own multi-megabuck installations.
I expect prn to be extolling the efficacy of a baryon enema next.
You never cease to amaze me.
This seems an appropriate time and place to mention Zoobiquity; learning about human disease from animals diseases and vice versa.
The Seventh Day Adventists’ health institute was the leader for proton therapy in the US.
And ads for ProCure continue in heavy rotation on WGN-AM. I do not intend a detailed analysis but only to note that this is generally a Bad Sign.
I came across your blog while researching Dr.Buzynski
I’ll like something to add
” Dr Buzynski was honored by the Catholic Church in 2013″… So claims Kiran Schmidt… and he’s posting ‘real’ documents signed by Cardinal Sodano. This can’t be real!!!
see ‘the quackiest of quacksters’..
Thanks, keep posting!
@Militant Agnostic – I think this phone has become sentient, because that “tip” should’ve been something entirely different.
Either that, or I was sleep-posting again.
@Janet – When I still lived with my parents it was my job to take our dog to the vets, It was only a couple of miles away so we always walked there, and you’ve never seen such a sad Labradog.
Why? We had Vets that appeared to hate animals. They were so unfriendly and uncaring. It wasn’t until I moved here, to the country, that I met great vets.
I’m also lucky to now have a GP who is vet-like. Talks to us like real people and actually knows who we are. He understands that there are patients who do actually understand their condition(s), will discuss approaches rather than just saying “take this”, and I wish I could clone him!
This lack of general currency in science and technology is part of the ongoing “skeptic” problem here. Charged particle beams in medicine have been being developed for decades, have some significant intrinsic advantages over Xrays and have long been mentioned in the science press.
[email protected] was relatively polite this time to be merely dubious.
Militant [email protected] was hanging his ignorance out for all to see trying to be snide.
[email protected] just being nasty, confuses marketing with the merits of a hugely capital intensive technology that has to span general public ignorance, some competitive medical hostility, and large geographic areas.
prn, refers to “protons”
“Even with brain cancers, desperate people find other promising experimental alternatives or CAM avenues doing their due diligence. A classmate from a long time ago had a son with a terminal brain cancer dx in the 1990s. He packed up, went to California and got lasting results with protons. The other cancer center oncologists were busy poo-pooing it right up until they bought their own multi-megabuck installations.”
Shame on those doctors, prn, for not considering that *new innovative proton beam therapy during the 1990s*
The first suggestion that energetic protons could be an effective treatment method was made by Robert R. Wilson in a paper published in 1946 while he was involved in the design of the Harvard Cyclotron Laboratory (HCL). The first treatments were performed with particle accelerators built for physics research, notably Berkeley Radiation Laboratory in 1954 and at Uppsala in Sweden in 1957. In 1961, a collaboration began between HCL and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to pursue proton therapy. Over the next 41 years, this program refined and expanded these techniques while treating 9,116 patients before the Cyclotron was shut down in 2002. The world’s first hospital-based proton therapy center was a low energy cyclotron centre for ocular tumours at the Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology in the UK , followed in 1990 at the Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) in Loma Linda, California. Later, The Northeast Proton Therapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital was brought online, and the HCL treatment program was transferred to it during 2001 and 2002. By 2010 these facilities were joined by an additional seven regional hospital-based proton therapy centers in the United States alone, and many more worldwide.”
I guess that megadoses of Vitamins didn’t help your friend’s child, eh?
Is he related to Dr. Mercola? You know, the guy who is now endorsing booger eating as beneficial for immune function?
Does anyone else find this highly gross yet hilariously funny to think about anti-vaccinationists adopting this practice?
I guess that megadoses of Vitamins didn’t help your friend’s child, eh?
[email protected], always overreaching or making unfounded presumptions.
My classmate was not a personal friend, just someone that I knew in passing, and then I moved out of state that summer. The kid was followed in small local papers for several years.
Also in that time period I had little knowledge of extra medical therapeutic nutrition that would include your quaint megavitamin notions. I even still believed Moertel’s munged myths.
You seem to think my cancer treatment views are fiendishly dominated by megavitamins. They are not. Every incremental improvement counts in eclectic orchestration, whether surgery, radiation, chemo or nutrients. In dealing with fast growing, highly metastatic cancer, ideologues aren’t just foolish, they are dead, likely miserably. In over two dozen “cheats”, four are “megavitamins”. One being leucovorin, my cheat is less, not more.
Families dealing with terminal diagnoses need latitude to identify new or less common treatments that might succeed. My classmate found one. I have, too. The Japanese survival curves for seriously multiple extrahepatic and liver mets, treated with 5FU-LV and presumably some PSK, are actually extinction curves at 40 months with a bad biomarker. Even with the nastiest treatment series ASCO can dish out today expectations would be pretty bleak, *maybe* 30 months median, including less aggressive biomarkers. My little experiment runs over 40 months without the extra $1m, horrendous side effects, or coffin.
A problem here at RI is that various people advocate State interference, often based on misinformation built on multiple rumors, misinterpretations, and potential malice from actual litigants. All whipped up in a self amplifying daisy chain of rhetoric across the internet.
Your classmate’s son’s brain tumor was treated with proton beam therapy which was and remains mainstream treatment for certain types of brain tumors. So…your statement upthread about that treatment, “A classmate from a long time ago had a son with a terminal brain cancer dx in the 1990s. He packed up, went to California and got lasting results with protons. The other cancer center oncologists were busy poo-pooing it right up until they bought their own multi-megabuck installations.”, is false.
Would you care to explain this latest statement, prn?
“A problem here at RI is that various people advocate State interference, often based on misinformation built on multiple rumors, misinterpretations, and potential malice from actual litigants. All whipped up in a self amplifying daisy chain of rhetoric across the internet.”
I’m glad you are beating the odds, I really am. If I were in your unenviable position I might do something similar, who knows? However…
You still don’t seem to understand that your “little experiment” has too few subjects to draw any conclusions from. It is certainly too small to conclude that those who stick with conventional treatment, “aren’t just foolish, they are dead, likely miserably”.
You do not know how well you would have done without your “eclectic orchestration”. Maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t, maybe it has actually made things worse. You simply do not know.
With conventional treatment 6% of patients with MCRC survive 5 years. How do you know you are not one of these luckier patients? How do you know that your “eclectic orchestration” would not make things worse for other patients? You don’t.
I’m not suggesting you abandon your “eclectic orchestration”; I wish you luck with it. But please stop accusing those who prefer to trust their oncologist of foolishness that will lead to a miserable death. You really have no rational basis for making such accusations.
So…your statement….about [poo pooing] that treatment…, is false.
Your substitute for reasoning is specious. I am relying upon articles that I read, including independent ones about proton therapy. Proton therapy even now is uncommon, much less ca 15 yrs ago. No matter what its status when, experimental or approved, proton therapy was not standard. Personally, I’ve had a med onc stab the rad onc who brought me in the first place, in the back about much more common standard treatments.
One can speculate how many oncologists might say something like, “protons cost 2-3x my treatments, I’ve never seen one even if I’ve heard of it, it obsoletes my new —–device, go ahead spend my boat payment elsewhere”. My experience and my family’s experiences with oncologists are perhaps different than yours.
Also, this very column is between two MD-PhDs who can be said to poo-poo each other, as well as other MDs.
Would you care to explain this latest statement, prn?
The literate with half a memory can probably think of several examples for each. Direct names seem unwelcome in such an environment, given your prior threats.
You made that statement prn and now you cannot even provide a proper explanation/translation in easy-to-understand English.
I understand most mangled English statements…but your’s is beyond comprehension…”A problem here at RI is that various people advocate State interference, often based on misinformation built on multiple rumors, misinterpretations, and potential malice from actual litigants. All whipped up in a self amplifying daisy chain of rhetoric across the internet.”
What threats, prn?
[email protected] What threats…?
You are constantly intimating or projecting your aggressive interpretation of legal exposures that might apply to your locale or fancy, to me and others. It’s tiresome.
…but your’s is beyond comprehension
Good. It’s meant to be parsed by those with a suitable education, interest and IQ without providing faux legal targets for any such family businesses. [One cranky old fart in his man cave, on record with dozens of lawsuits and threats, comes to mind]
Just to clarify about …ideologues aren’t just foolish, they are dead, likely miserably”, I was actually commenting on less fortunate, less educated CAM ideologues who blindly follow some simplistic, misguided nonsense.
My point was that a successful CAM application really needs to be experimentally flexible and objective to succeed in the face of changes, shortcomings, and surprises.
As for as the stats, they can be stratified further than “mCRC” by number of mets, site(s) and biomarkers for various treatments. Some combinations of the mCRC conditions and biomarkers are more efficiently fatal and approach 0 – 0.2% in 40 months for 5FU-LV. Makes things interesting anyway. Of course I have arranged CAM and medical tx other than just 5FU-LV exposures. However in the eyes of std US oncology, they don’t exist, yet.
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I’m very sad to report that Fabio’s sister died of her ovarian cancer a couple of days ago. I would have posted this in the appropriate Fabio articles but they’re already past the three month limit for comments.
Oh no. 🙁
I’m so sorry, that poor woman, and her poor family.
Damn, that really sucks – my condolences to her and her family.