The Burzynski Clinic Threatens 17 Year Old Blogger

I have been hinting that Burzynski has been threatening other prominent UK bloggers. Well, that blogger has now gone public.

Rhys Morgan

Rhys Morgan is a 17 year old schoolboy from Wales. He has a keen interest in quack remedies, having been exposed to many through his own health problems with Crohn’s Disease. He hit the headlines on the BBC last year for exposing the bizarre world of a quack cure called Miracle Mineral Solution, that had been touted to fellow Crohn’s sufferers.

Rhys not only blogged about this dangerous form of quackery, but lobbied Cardiff City Council to persuade them to get the Trading Standards Authority involved. For his efforts, the James Randi Educational Foundation awarded him him the Grassroots Skepticism prize at the London Hilton Metropole. The BBC reported that Rhys would go onto tackle more ‘miracle cure’ web sites.

The Blog Post

So, Rhys wrote about (see here) the Texas based clinic of Stanislaw R. Burzynski, M.D., Ph.D who offers a urine based therapy as a cure for cancer. In his article, Rhys discussed Stan Burzynski’s “antineoplaston therapy”. He highlighted the recent examples in the press of where a teenager in Ireland with a brain tumour was having €120,000 raised for him to be sent to the Burzynski clinic, and also the case of a young mother in the UK whose family was trying to raise £95,000 to be sent to America “as the NHS does not fund this treatment.”

The problem is, as Rhys noted, is that antineoplaston therapy is considered an unproven treatment based on a hunch. Burzynski has been conducting continuous clinical trials on his therapy. Indeed, it would appear that the only way to get treatment is to enrol in a trial – and then pay for the trial yourself. The results of these trials have not convinced other researchers. The American Cancer Society states that “Most cancer specialists believe there is insufficient evidence to recommend use of antineoplastons.” They note that even alternative medicine enthusiasts are wary of this treatment with Dr Andrew Weil saying, “I see no reason for any cancer patient to take this route.”

Rhys’s article is thoughtful but direct. Of the patients he mentioned, he says, “I hate the idea of taking away someone’s last hope. Even though this is false hope, I still hate taking it away.” But he fears that misleading desperately ill patients is even worse. I too share a contempt for those who seek to take huge sums of money off the dying by offering vain hopes through unproven cures. I get family members writing to me on this web site after loved ones have been dragged into quack cures during their last months, wasting money that surviving families really need and wasting time that could have been better used being close to those you love.

It is therefore no surprise that Rhys noted Burzynski conviction for fraudulently claiming money from an insurance company and hence saying “I take no issue with calling Stanislaw Burzynski a quack and a fraud.”.

The Threat from Burzynski

A few weeks ago, Rhys received an email from a Marc Stephens who stated that his post and tweets were “in violation of several state and federal laws.” and that he “immediately cease and desist in your actions defaming and libeling my clients.”

The letter gave Rhys a bit of a lecture of US law on libel seemingly unaware that they were talking to a 16 year old school boy who was not resident in the United States. The letter ended with the threat, “ I suggest you remove ALL references about my client on the internet in its entirety, and any other defamatory statement about my client immediately, or I will file suit against you.”

“GOVERN YOURSELF ACCORDINGLY.”

You might have seen similar threats elsewhere.

Rhys is a bit of a smart chap. But receiving this is not pleasant. It could have threatened his entire wealth of a few hundred pounds in a savings account. Furthermore, it offended his sense of justice and ethics to take down an article that he felt was entirely justified on the basis of a broad threat that failed to identify anything that was factually incorrect. Instead, Rhys noted the rather odd statement in the letter that “Every comment you made in your article is highly incorrect.” He knew this was not true.

A quick bit of Googling by Rhys revealed that Marc Stephens did not appear to be a lawyer but was employed by the Burzynski Clinic for the purposes of Marketing and Sponsorship.

Rhys responded saying that he had to finish school that day before he could do anything. Stephens responded asking Rhys to “Please forward the notice to your parents if you are actually in High School. This is a very serious matter. “ and then demanded that Rhys “provide a public apology to Dr. Burzynski and his patients and post it on your websites, and social media sites.”

All very odd behaviour.

So what to do?

Rhys has many good friends. He contacted myself for help. He spoke to Simon Singh who had been through a two year ordeal when the now totally discredited British Chiropractic Association tried and failed to sue him for defamation. He got some good advice.

Taking down his blog posts appeared to be a sensible thing to do in order to show good will whilst the problem was explored. That goodwill has not been extended back. So, Rhys has now republished and added a commentary. You had best read it.

My take

Rhys is a bit of an hero. With his campaigns to close down the dreadful Miracle Mineral Cure, he has undoubtedly helped many very poorly people from being duped into taking dangerous quack medicines.

You know what? It is just likely that at 17 years of age, Rhys Morgan has already saved more lives by simply speaking out than Burzynski has in three decades with his fixation on his “antineoplastons.”

22 comments for “The Burzynski Clinic Threatens 17 Year Old Blogger

  1. Mike Warren
    November 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Has the time come to publish contact details for Marc Stephens? I suspect that there are quite a few people who like to offer him some advice.

    • Ron
      July 6, 2012 at 1:00 am

      this is all about supession of a cure, because cancer institutes rake in billions each year and if theres a cure then that money dissapears from there pockets and big pharma can’t make money from the chemo treatments if theres a cure,and they get reduced population like the establishment want’s …

      • Badly Shaved Monkey
        July 6, 2012 at 7:08 am

        Good luck with sustaining that opinion should you actually get cancer one day.

        I assume the bizarre grammar was deliberate and intended satirically. Well played, sir.

  2. November 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I have to take my hat off to this young man. He is clearly taking on the big quacks, and needs as much support as possible.

    Much respect.

    JD.

  3. Mirik
    November 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Hero!

    Bullied by quacks. Ought be law against THAT!

  4. Bob Arthur
    November 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    While I’d certainly recommend everyone goes and reads the whole story on Rhys’ own blog, I just thought it worth reiterating that this Marc guy apparently _mailed Rhys a Google-map image of his (Rhys’) own house_. In other words: “We know where you live”.

    I haven’t the words to adequately describe just how disgusting such behaviour is; I’d also love to know whether it could be considered criminal.

  5. C J Brent
    November 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Why haven’t I seen this in the news?? Taking money from the parents of sick children in the name of unproven-science is evil. Everyone ought to be warned of this clinic.

    Well done Rhys, consider it re-tweeted.

  6. Badly Shaved Monkey
    November 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Interesting new development revealed in Rhys’s blog.

    http://rhysmorgan.co/2011/11/threats-from-the-burzynski-clinic/#comment-3339

    Any cover under which the Burzynski Clinic could claim that Marc Stephens is nothing to do with them looks pretty blown to me.

  7. November 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    Hats off to Rhys for exposing this sickening charade.

    I have retweeted it.

  8. November 28, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Shouldn’t the title have “..and loses” added to it?

  9. November 29, 2011 at 2:56 am

    I noticed you [REDACTED] his name on your other blog? any particular reason for this? I thought yeah 17 year old don’t want to post his name online if it isn’t needed – but then you have this whole article about him.

    • Mojo
      November 29, 2011 at 11:41 am

      Try reading the second sentence of the article.

  10. Maria
    November 29, 2011 at 5:11 am

    I do love how the Burzynski Clinic and Stephens are poised to be getting a quick lesson on how it’s no longer 1994. Social media, some days it’s a wonderful thing.

  11. November 29, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Bay! Where’s my letter? Burzynski is behaving like a quack!

  12. martin
    November 29, 2011 at 11:38 am

    When I was in medical school in the ’70s the latest thing then was the Issels treatment. At that time as I recall oxygen injections were given (the details are somewhat hazy in my mind, although odd things like that stick in your memory) and the word ‘immunotherapy’ was used. This was presented to us medical students as an interesting topic for discussion – the idea of using immunotherapy was interesting theoretically, but that Issels was using it in a clinic was considered dubious in that there were at that time only (glowing) anecdotal reports. Some said that the benefit the patients got from it was the upbeat presence of Dr Issels himself.

    Out of curiosity I googled ‘Issels’ expecting to find that yet another doubtful remedy had come and gone, as they have before and since. Although Issels himself is now dead, the first three hits are for Issels official web site, still apparently going strong. Supportive peer review research is cited, although a very different picture is painted by the Wikipedia article.

    It seems there is no end to doubtful remedies, like the heads of the Lernaean Hydra. Picking them off one-by-one may not work.

    My suggestion would be to lobby for legislation outlawing charging patients for new therapies that have not been subjected to double blind prospective controlled clinical trials and published in peer review journals. This would allow genuine trials to go ahead, but funding would have to come from bodies like the Medical Research Council or private finance.

  13. Dr Richard Rawlins
    November 29, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    From my perspective this all started with comedian Peter Kay supporting charity fund raising for the Clinic. (Vicariously, using an ill child as a vehicle for the funds.)

    Is it known whether Kay has been reading any of the blog postings on the issue, and whether the Observer has interviewed him further about it. And if not, why not?

  14. Badly Shaved Monkey
    November 29, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Peter Kay has certainly had Tweets directed at him. “Blue Wode” has done so, I think. I’m mobile at the moment so can’t readily search the Tweetsphere, but I’m sure I’m right.

    So, is Kay checking his Tweets? So his “people” check his Tweets for him?

  15. Chris
    November 30, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Mr. Stephens has been sacked:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/11/the_burzynski_clinic_disavows_marc_stephens.php

    Though I suspect he is still around as a very stinky sock puppet.

  16. jo
    February 27, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    look at hope for laura fund and the results, what do you all think of that, ?

  17. Tom Smythe
    March 22, 2012 at 6:22 pm

    This silly 17 year old should find out the facts before publishing his libellous garbage. Burzynsky is saving lives and you fools who automatically assume Burzynsky is a quack without knowing the facts should all get brain cancer and see how you feel.

    • le canard noir
      March 22, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      Tom – do you normally hope people get brain cancer, or is it only 17 year old bloggers who dare say the emperor has no clothes?

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