January 6, 2014
First they malign the cancer pioneer, then they refuse him the ability to rebut the allegations. Action Alert!
In recent months, USA Today has released a spate of anti-natural health articles:
- An adulatory (some might say “drooling”) review of Do You Believe in Magic?, Dr. Paul Offit’s flawed and deeply biased book demonizing dietary supplements and attacking high visibility CAM advocates like Drs. Oz and Mercola;
- An inflammatory “investigative report” equating dietary supplement manufacturers with criminals;
- And a series of shamelessly slanted articles smearing cancer pioneer Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski.
What is behind the mainstream media’s outright hostility to supplements and natural medicine? We can’t be sure. But we do know that the mainstream media as a whole would likely be bankrupt today without drug company advertising.
Of these three USA Today articles, the personal attack on Dr. Burzynski, who has helped so many people survive incurable cancers, seemed to us particularly offensive.
In an exclusive interview with the doctor and renowned healthcare lawyer Rick Jaffe, ANH-USA learned how USA Today’s “reporting” manipulated its readers, further obscured the truth by denying Dr. Burzynski his right to respond, and accidentally revealed the FDA’s illegal dissemination of confidential medical records to the USA Today reporter.
We’ve told you before about cancer pioneer Stanislaw Burzynski, MD, PhD, a Texas-based physician and biochemist. Dr. Burzynski developed (with his own money) a nontoxic gene-targeted cancer therapy called antineoplastons, which has been shown to control or cure some of the most “incurable” forms of brain cancer. At his clinic in Texas, Dr. Burzynski and his team of skilled doctors provided individualized multi-agent gene-targeted therapies to patients, most of whom have failed mainstream, “one-size-fits-all” cancer treatments.
Given the USA Today reporter’s previously over-the-top review of Paul Offit’s book (which contained a long and highly biased chapter on Dr. Burzynski), the doctor was not surprised to find that two new articles, “Doctor Accused of Selling False Hope to Families” and “Experts Dismiss Doctor’s Cancer Claims,” both published on November 18, were distorted and deeply unfair. According to Rick Jaffe,
Both these articles were riddled with inaccuracies and promoted outrageous far-fetched speculations. For example, they stated that all terminally ill patients cured by the Burzynski clinic were either previously cured by non-curative treatments, or perhaps that the patients never had cancer. Dr. Burzynski does not diagnose cancer; he only treats people with confirmed cancer, and most of his patients have already failed one or more forms of conventional therapy.
Jaffe also gave the reporter and the quoted “experts” a left-handed compliment by conceding, “These folks had to get very creative to dismiss the fact that so many terminally ill brain cancer patients are still alive. But that’s the nature of bias: facts don’t matter—nor do live patients who are supposed to be dead. Instead, just focus on some unfortunate terminal patients who succumbed to their disease while being treated at the Burzynski clinic.” And that’s exactly what the USA Today story did.
Independently, ANH-USA has evaluated these articles, and agrees with Mr. Jaffe’s assessment. To give just a few examples, the “Doctor Accused” article:
- Cites the lack of published random-controlled trials (RCTs) as evidence of antineoplastons’ uselessness, while omitting the fact that the efficacy of the treatment has recently been confirmed by a randomized, clinical trial by Japanese researchers. And of course ANH-USA has repeatedly had to point out that RCT’s are enormously expensive. Nobody but drug companies can afford them, and they will usually only undertake them if the treatment is under patent and therefore a government enforced monopoly. In addition, there is growing evidence that RCTs, particularly in the context of individualized treatments, should no longer be considered the “gold standard” for drug efficacy.
- Claims there is no evidence that Dr. Burzynski has cured “a single patient,” despite the fact that none of the article’s quoted experts who have reviewed even one case among the several hundreds of clinical trial patients with documented responses to the treatment or the seventy-seven patients in the brain tumor trials who are long-term survivors.
- Touts the number of cancer drugs approved by the FDA (108) since Burzynski began his trials, discrediting Dr. Burzynski’s statement that proper approval of treatments takes time. Again, Dr. Burzynski does not have the backing of a big drug company. Moreover, the speed at which drugs are approved is no indication of quality: a recent study found that in the past thirty years, 90% of all new drugs approved by the FDA were barely more effective than existing drugs, if at all. Many of these new cancer drugs show only a very small survival benefit, while antineoplastons have dozens and dozens of long-term survivors from some of the most virulent forms of brain cancer. In reality, then, the article is more an indictment of the FDA cancer drug approval process than of Dr. Burzynski!
A portion of ANH-USA’s research focus has been on how dangerous drugs are approved and prescribed for the benefit of Big Pharma, the government, and the pocketbooks of some individual doctors. However, the average consumer reading a USA Today article wouldn’t have any knowledge of this highly specific topic, because USA Today, by concealing the truth from the average consumer, generates media buzz.
Disappointed and alarmed by the USA Today’s slander, Dr. Burzynski and Mr. Jaffe asked the paper to rescind or amend their article. They refused. Seeking a constructive, balanced dialogue, Dr. Burzynski respectfully asked for an opportunity to rebut USA Today via a short op-ed or opinion piece. USA Today agreed; Dr. Burzynski submitted an approximately 450-word rebuttal that cited hard data about Dr. Burzynski’s treatments—such as the fact that of 401 brain tumor patients with a life expectancy of less than one year, seventy-seven of them survived over five years.
According to Dr. Burzynski and Mr. Jaffe, USA Today claimed that, due to the letter’s length, they were unable to print it in its entirety, and sent back an edited version that was stripped of any specific facts and statistics. To accommodate USA Today, Dr. Burzynski submitted a much shorter letter that still included hard facts. Again, the USA Today refused to publish, this time claiming that they “fact-checked” all of their letters to the editor, and “couldn’t verify” Dr. Burzynski’s statistics—“which is ironic,” Mr. Jaffe told ANH-USA, “because they certainly didn’t fact-check their articles on Dr. Burzynski.”
Action Alert! Ask USA Today to publish Dr. Burzynski’s op-ed rebuttal or at least a letter to the editor! Please write to USA Today immediately and ask them to allow the target of their smear campaign to rebut their article with the hard facts about his treatment. Please take action immediately!