This case is now over. It was basically a waste of everyone’s time as Burzynski got off with a pathetic punishment the Texas Medical Board failed to stand up for patients. See update below. We can’t even say it was good that people got to hear of the allegations because MORE people will instead now believe he deserves to practice and will seek his treatments.
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Original post 16-Feb 2017
As regular readers know, we have chronicled the operations of Stanislaw Burzynski, a medical doctor who runs his own cancer treatment clinic using some alternative methods unsupported by evidence, who was the subject of propaganda movies and campaigns and who has violated research standards according to FDA inspectors while running a never-ending trial without solid results. He was accused of charging patients exorbitant case management fees and selling them drugs at high costs from his own pharmacy.
Back in October, we had Bob Blaskiewicz on 15 Credibility Street to tell us about the latest court battle between Stan and the Texas Medical Board. Hearings had taken place in 2015 and 2016. At that point, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) made a series of Findings of Fact, some of which were not actually factual.
Well, the ruling is in now and though it doesn’t throw Stan in jail, it does make the rest of his life (he’s not young) rather difficult. So difficult, that I wonder if he will retire. The Texas Medical Board accepting all the 201 Finds of Fact and Conclusions of Law by the ALJs and ordered the following:
- Revocation of license. Unfortunately, this was stayed assuming he follows the rest of the requirements. But he was put on probation and given a public reprimand.
- The Burzynski clinic’s billing practices will be monitored and the records reviewed.
- Burzynski must complete a Physicians Ethics program and undergo continuing education to obtain credits of completion in several topics of medical research.
- Informed consent forms must be submitted to the Board for review to demonstrate they comply with rules and laws. Each patient must now get these new forms and sign them before treatment.
- Ownership interest disclosure must be submitted to the Board for review and all patients must be informed (that he owns the pharmacy he is making them use).
- He must pass a Medical Jurisprudence Exam.
- He must pay a 360,000 penalty based on the incidents shown to have occurred with patience. (The false billing really got him here, constituting a huge portion of the assessment.) And, he must pay restitution of $20,125 to the American Cancer Society.
Bob has this to say about the ruling:
As best I can tell, this is more than a slap on the hand. While it’s clear that the judge made findings of fact that are simply impossible given the type of evidence that was presented in court, he was still fined a fortune and he will apparently have a babysitter for the rest of his foreseeable career.
Not only that but the requirements for schooling are humiliating, I’m sure, for a 74-year-old guy who has gotten away with freedom in his practice for years. He’s already claimed to have had heart problems. So, this may be a devastating ruling. Though, others say it does not go far enough, as the clinic remains open and available to treat patients. For more, check out this Debunking Denialism post by Emil Karlsson.
According to Liz Szabo for the Houston Chronicle, Burzynski will have an opportunity to present a counter to the recommendations on March 3rd. He will CERTAINLY try to weasel out of any punishments, as usual.
UPDATE (4-March 2017)
And indeed he weaseled. On Friday, the board ruled to roll back the fines and restitution to only $60,000 (less than one patient would be billed for his treatment), a five-year probation with more lenient terms, a public reprimand, and training and oversight.
Burzynski’s attorneys called the decision a win.
“It means that he gets to continue medicine. He gets to continue to save lives,” attorney Gregory Myers said.
Sadly, the Burzynski clinic will continue to fool people into paying their life savings for a treatment that has not been shown to actual work and may hasten their death. At the least, it robs them of money and time with their families while making Stan wealthy. I guess that’s the American way.