8. GRAND JURY ON THE MOVE:
BURZYNSKI WINS IN COURTS
BUT STRUGGLE HEATS UP
From The Cancer Chronicles #21
© May 1994 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
On March 10, Stanislaw R. Burzynski, MD, PhD, won a major victory in his
battle to keep practicing medicine in the state of Texas. An administrative
law judge ruled that the former Baylor College of Medicine researcher can
continue to treat cancer and AIDS patients in his Houston clinic with his
new class of non-toxic medicines called antineoplastons. This ruling came
despite another Texas law that supposedly prohibits people from distributing
or prescribing drugs that have not yet been approved by the FDA. The judge's
ruling had been requested by the State Board of Medical Examiners.
But Judge Earl A. Corbitt upset their plans. He ruled that the Texas
Medical Practices Act allows physicians to prescribe "any drug"
to minister to the immediate needs of their patients. This right, he said,
takes precedence over the general provisions of the Texas Food, Drug and
Cosmetics Act, which allegedly make it a crime to manufacture, distribute,
or prescribe drugs not approved by the FDA. "The decision," says
Dr. B.'s victorious attorney, Richard Jaffe, "strikes a significant
blow for freedom of choice." Corbitt's decision will stand unless the
board changes it for matters of policy.
"The decision is life-saving for many of Dr. Burzynski's advanced
cancer and AIDS patients," said Jaffe. "But it is also an important
precedent for all complementary health practitioners who use treatments
and supplements that have not yet received FDA approval."
BURZYNSKI TO BE INDICTED? The ink was hardly dry on this historic
ruling, however, when the U.S. Attorney's office in Houston stepped up its
harassment. There is a real possibility that Burzynski will be indicted
by the U.S. government in the near future.
For almost 10 years, Burzynski has been investigated by various U.S.
Attorneys and Grand Juries in Houston. Their presumption has been
that he defrauds insurance companies by inducing their clients to take a
useless cancer remedy. In addition, they allege that he ships his medicines
across state lines, in contravention of FDA regulations.
Over the years, at least five different Grand Juries, three consecutive
U.S. attorneys, and five assistant U.S. attorneys have been involved in
this vendetta. Burzynski employees and family members have repeatedly been
called to testify. Dr. B. himself has been called twice. Yet these investigators
have never been successful, except in wasting time and energy. In fact,
after Burzynski testified three years ago, the result was not an indictment,
but a pink slip for U.S. Assistant Attorney, Philip Hilder.
During Easter/Passover week this year, however, there was stepped-up
activity. "What is going on now seems to be a desperate last ditch
effort to produce an indictment," says the Houston attorney. Numerous
current and former employees are again being subpoenaed to testify.
A USELESS REMEDY? Are antineoplastons really a "useless cancer
remedy"? Not according to NCI, which conducted a site visit in 9/91
that validated the effectiveness of these drugs in some cases. In fact,
the OAM/NIH has now arranged for clinical trials at Sloan-Kettering, the
Mayo Clinic, and NCI itself. And not according to hundreds of Dr. B's devoted
It is also well known that Burzynski has a strict company policy that
prohibits the shipment of antineoplastons across state lines. However, cancer
and AIDS patients are legally allowed to take home a three months' supply
of medicine for their own use, and frequently do so. Word about antineoplastons
is spreading in this way.
In late April, the U.S. Attorney's office launched an attack on one of
Dr. B's most prominent local supporters, the Harris County Attorney, Mike
Driscoll, who is also a board member of the Burzynski Research Institute.
Burzynski had treated Driscoll's wife, Betty Rose, who had cancer. The Grand
Jury subpoenaed copies of the last 10 years of Driscoll's campaign records,
which showed that Dr. B. made donations of about $1,000 per year to Driscoll's
campaign. There was no crime or impropriety in this, however.
"Many folks on the local political scene are well aware of Driscoll's
devotion to his late wife during her illness," wrote the Houston Business
Journal, "and his appreciation for Dr. Burzynski's efforts to save
her." It called the attempt to insinuate corruption "ham-handed"
(4/2). In fact, these reports are part of the public records and can be
readily obtained by anyone, according to the Houston Post (4/20). So why
all the grandstanding? Driscoll believes it is "to discredit him in
connection with grand jury testimony about Dr. Burzynski."
According to attorney Jaffe "Several grand jurors asked him what
he thought of Burzynski, and why. He told them that he basically believes
Dr. Burzynski is helping people, saving lives, and was a good man"
(Houston Insider, 4/20/94).
In the 1980s, the Aetna Insurance Co. sued Burzynski for fraud. This case was
eventually thrown out of court, but not before Burzynski countersued for
over $100 million. That suit is still alive. Some observers believe that
Aetna is behind the investigation. At the very least, Aetna would be the
main beneficiary of the indictment. In fact, the government's case against
Burzynski is virtually identical to the old Aetna suit.
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