Burzynski: License Suspended, Suspension Stayed, Assigned Baby-sitter, Ethics Training

After more than 2 years of legal proceedings, the Texas Medical Board publicly reprimanded Houston cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski. Though the sanctions handed down were less severe than those recommended by the Medical Board’s lawyers, they may yet go a long way to protect patients from some of the worst abuses of the Burzynski Clinic.

The Board Staff, following findings from the Administrative Law Judge who oversaw the lengthy proceedings, had recommended that Burzynski’s license be revoked, but to stay the revocation pending four years of monitoring, in addition to $360,000 in fines and compensation to former patients. At the hearing, the Board voted to reduce the fine to $40,000 and to suspend Burzynski’s medical license; they then stayed the suspension as a way to guarantee him due process when he messes up. $20,000 dollars will go to a single patient. (All but one of the patients identified in the Board’s main complaint are dead and are unavailable for comment.)

According to a press release from the Medical Board, reported in the American-Statesman:

“The violations as detailed in the order, and supported by the judges’ findings, show a pattern of misleading patients at the Burzynski Clinic. These misrepresentations can lead to direct harm to the public if left unchecked. In total there were over 130 violations cited.”

“Among the violations are numerous instances of misrepresenting services billed; failing to supervise and allowing those working in his clinic to misrepresent themselves to patients; and a continued failure of not informing patients of potential risks before and during treatment.”

“The administrative sanctions and penalty levied by the Board as part of Dr. Burzynski’s order are in line with the disciplinary sanction guidelines set out in Board rules. Through the probationary terms of this order, Dr. Burzynski is required to make the necessary changes to his practice to ensure the health and safety of all patients seeking treatment at his clinic.”

Considering the infamy of the Burzynski Clinic and its impressive history of patient exploitation, both in the medical and legal environment, many critics–and a large segment of the cancer community–are angered by the outcome. Nonetheless, Burzynski has had his day in court, was given due process, and still was unable to convince a demonstrably gullible judge that he was innocent of 130+ violations. In addition, he will have a baby-sitter for the foreseeable future to make sure that he does not continue misleading patients at the Burzynski Clinic. The prospects for patients are therefore marginally improved, and the ruling should therefore be considered a small victory for public health.

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2 Responses to Burzynski: License Suspended, Suspension Stayed, Assigned Baby-sitter, Ethics Training

  1. A. Shapiro says:

    Do you think the $10,000 he gave to Dan Patrick in 2014 and the $5,000 he gave to Sid Miller in late 2016 had anything to do with the decision?

    • Bob says:

      I doubt it. The judges’ reasoning was evident, if desperately flawed. It’s clear that the range of the TMBs possible sanctions was hemmed in by prescribed rules in their mandate. Some offenses have fixed penalties, and when the penalties for individual sanctionable acts are not fixed in law, then they need to be (by law, I believe) in keeping with the general spirit of the ones that are outlined. I suspect that the TMB wanted something that they knew would be likely to hold up in the inevitable appeal. And I suspect that they want a monitor in there more than anything else. Hell, if I couldn’t end the nightmare, I’d want someone in there. Burzynski’s supporters are crowing about how this is a victory for them, but they are kidding themselves. Some doctors aspire to more than only having their license suspended. What really was galling, for me at least, was the judges’ approach to testimonial as evidence of efficacy. That lowered the bar greatly.

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