Recent developments in Texas offer an intriguing test case for commentators on woo.
Six months ago a series of three documents were obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act which even seasoned Burzynski-watchers could scarcely believe.
The first of these has already been released some time ago; this was the report on the Institutional Review Board, the third consecutive adverse report, with issues identical to the previous two – conflicts of interest, excessive use of too-rapid approvals and so on.
The other two, inspection reports on the Burzynski clinic and Burzynski himself, have now been published on the FDA website:
These reports are incredible damning. Apart from failure to obtain legally mandated informed consent, failing to inform patients of likely additional costs, large numbers of overdoses and serious adverse incidents, inability to properly account for the amount of drugs, and failure to report adverse events for up to seven years, it turns out that the baseline records for every patient, including MRI scans, have been destroyed.
All those trials for which people have paid tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, are worthless. They cannot be published.
This is not just an epic fraud, it’s also a gross violation of the [W:Declaration of Helsinki] on human trials.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, but what is clear is that people who have been doing Burzynski’s PR for him – including Mercola, CANCERactive, WDDTY and others, now have an opportunity to show that they are not, in fact, credulous propagandists for woo.
These violations are self-evidently unacceptable. Even if you believe in Burzynski’s antineoplastons, routine overdosing, large scale adverse reactions not reported, shredding the records that would be the necessary foundation of any proof of efficacy, these things are unambiguously bad.
Burzynski will never respond to a skeptic who asks him why he did these things. His historical supporters have an opportunity to ask searching questions which are as relevant to their audience as they are to skeptics.
Why did you destroy the data? How can you now provide the evidence that’s necessary to get approval of the drugs? Why did you not report the adverse events?
My suspicion is that they will not ask these questions, because their approach to woo is typically entirely uncritical (unlike their approach to anything with a solid body of evidence, which was hilariously satirised by John Finnemore in episode 3 of his Souvenir Programme a few weeks back).
But the ball is in their court. They could, right now, show themselves to have at least some honour towards their audience. What’s the betting they go down the conspiracy theory route instead?