Transcript - Chapter 6 of 10 - Texas Medical Board vs. Dr. Burzynski





34:57 - 48:03 - Interactive sourced transcript

ON-SCREEN TITLE CARD:

(Note: this page of the transcript does not contain the Judge Earl Corbitt section, which was added to the project in 2011 for the Documentary Channel & Netflix airings. This version of the script contains the actual court transcript of the 1993 trial itself, which is more condemning than the Earl Corbitt interview, but did not work as well on screen, which is why we chose to interview the Judge later and replace that scene. We felt this version of the original transcript was more informative for the reader).

Dr. STANISLAW BURZYNSKI - on camera interview:
Before I started, I asked my lawyers for their advice: "Can I use an experimental treatment—which was the treatment of Antineoplastons—can I use this in my private practice, and can I be involved in cancer research, as simple as any private company?"

NARRATOR (reading along with highlighted portions of a legal opinion letter from his attorneys dated June 21, 1977):
Dr. Burzynski’s attorneys investigated both state and federal law to find out if it was legal for him to start his own biomedical research company, making Antineoplastons, and administering them to his patients within his private practice. They found that according to both the Taxes state and federal law, the use of any drug, or new drug, can be used to meet the immediate needs of the patients of a licensed doctor—particularly when there was no other available option for them. The law stated that such activity was not governed at the time by the Texas Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and is not otherwise unlawful in the state of Texas. However, Dr. Burzynski would not be legally allowed to introduce or deliver Antineoplastons into interstate commerce. Which means, he had to keep his activity only within the state of Texas to avoid breaking any federal laws. As long as he did this, his actions were not within the regulatory authority of the FDA. [SOURCE: Legal Opinion Letter 1977]

However, once word began to spread that Dr. Burzynski was successfully treating what was once considered terminal incurable cancer patients—people began traveling from all over the country to receive Antineoplaston treatment.

ON-SCREEN TITLE CARD:
Texas Medical Board

Dr. STANISLAW BURZYNSKI - on camera interview:
For a long time, I didn’t have any contact with the Texas Board of Medical Examiners, until around 1984, some of my patients told me that they were approached by the agents sent to them by the Texas Board of Medical Examiners who were trying to convince them to file complaints against me. This was shocking to me. What is surprising is that they were using the state money, they were using taxpayer's money to travel long distances, like from Houston to California, to convince our patients who live in California to file complaints against me. This was completely irrational.

But nothing else happened at the time until I met, by coincidence, the Vice President of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Hickey, who informed me that I will have problems with the Texas Board of Medical Examiners. And obviously the problems began. I was called to the Texas Board of Medical Examiners, they began investigating me. However, there were no complaints from the patients, the patients were happy, we were treating patients who were very advanced, for whom there was no treatment available, and they were getting good results. So, apparently, there was no justification for such action. [SOURCE: TMB 1986 Letter]

This was a very unpleasant investigation, they were trying to convince me again to stop my research and to stop treating patients. After about two year of going back-and-forth and being called to the board—finally, they proposed to me that I should present to them a number of cases of patients who benefited from my practice. They informed me that such medical records would be reviewed by their expert oncologists and if they are satisfied that I am not harming patients and the patients are benefiting from my activity then they would leave me in peace. I was very happy with this, I believed that the Texas Board would do an objective review of our results and finally they would leave me alone—because we had amazing results in the treatment of very difficult cancer cases. I supplied to them twice as many medical records which showed without any doubt great results in the cancer treatment. Incurable forms of cancer completely disappearing, with patients going into complete remission and patients who were cured and living a normal life after that.

NARRATOR (reading along with highlighted portions of a notarized agreement between Dr. Burzynski and the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, and various legal related complaints served to Dr. Burzynski by the Texas Medical Board):
In 1986, Dr. Burzynski agreed to present to the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners  forty cases of various types of cancer he had successfully treated using Antineoplastons. In patients ranging from breast, bladder, lung, liver, brain, head and neck, and lymphoma. After submitting these cases to the medial board, he didn’t hear back from them, leaving him to assume that the board was satisfied and would leave him in peace. [SOURCE: 11/18/86 TMB Affidavit]

However, two years later, the board came back again, pretended that the cases he submitted were not successful, and claimed he was violating a law that didn’t exist, which was grounds for the board to cancel, revoke, or suspend his license. [SOURCE: 9/6/88 TMB Complaint]

Dr. STANISLAW BURZYNSKI - on camera interview:
It was a shock to me. I believed in justice, I believed in the high ethics of the board, but this was just a lie.

NARRATOR (reading along with highlighted portions of various legal related complaints served to Dr. Burzynski by the Texas Medical Board):
It was abundantly clear that the medical board had no case against Burzynski. Which prompted the board to file their first amended complaint in 1990 [SOURCE: 1990 TMB 1st Am Com]—still the board had no case—which prompted them to file a second amended complaint in 1992 [SOURCE: 1992 TMB 2nd Am Com]. The medical board kept coming back each time with the same argument, practically making Xerox copies of their prior claims, changing the titles and simply resubmitting them. After about five years of this, sixty of Dr. Burzynski’s patients petitioned the board to stop harassing their doctor. The board then tried to ignore these petitions by attempting to strike them from the record. [SOURCE: Motion To Dismiss Strike 1993] Finally in May of 1993, this case went to trial.

NARRATOR (reading along with title card of Dr. Nicholas Patronas):
During this trial, one of the National Cancer Institute’s leading experts, Dr. Nicholas Patronas, a board-certified radiologist since 1973, professor of radiology at Georgetown University, and founder of the neuroradiology section of the National Cancer Institute [SOURCE: NIH Staff Pages]—recognized the absurdity of the Texas Medical Board’s case against Burzynski, put his own career on the line and flew himself to Texas to testify on Dr. Burzynski’s behalf. Dr. Patronas testified under oath his role at the National Cancer Institute.

NARRATOR (reading along with the official court transcript from the May 24, 1993 hearing): [SOURCE: Original complete court transcript of the entire testimony 1993]

Q (Jaffe): Basically, just in layman’s terms, you do all of the imaging work and interpretation for the National Cancer Institute’s testing of drugs?

A (Dr. Patronas): Exactly. That’s my job, to assess the effectiveness of the drugs that are given there.

Q (Jaffe): Did there come a time when you became aware of Dr. Burzynski?

A (Dr. Patronas): Yes, the National Cancer Institute asked me to join a group of other physicians and scientists, and come to Houston on a site visit to Dr. Burzynski’s Institute. I was called as an expert  in assessing the images to evaluate the effectiveness of his treatment. The basic conclusion, was that in five of the patients with brain tumors, that were fairly large, the tumor resolved, disappeared.

Q (Jaffe): And that’s part of what you do at the hospital, is to evaluate treatments on brain cancer patients? A: Well, since I am the neuroradiologist I see all brain tumors. And I see a large volume of them.

Q (Jaffe): You testified that five of the patients had their tumors resolved, they all...

A (Dr. Patronas): Disappeared.

Q (Jaffe): Disappeared? Can you give us some kind of context of that? How often does that happen? Just by spontaneous remission?

A (Dr. Patronas): I’m not aware that spontaneous remission occurs. The available treatments rarely produce results like that. The only medication, the only treatment, which I think is a last resort, is radiation therapy. Conventional chemotherapy is—provides very little, nothing, basically. So when this happens it is very rare. In these cases, all of the patients had already failed radiation.

Q (Jaffe): What happens with these patients, who failed radiation, with brain cancer?

A (Dr. Patronas): That’s it. They die.

Q (Jaffe): You are saying, that if someone has already failed radiation, there’s not much else?

A (Dr. Patronas): Nothing to offer, exactly.

Q (Jaffe): And there is nothing that you can do at the National Cancer Institute?

A (Dr. Patronas): Nothing we can do, not at this present time.

Q (Jaffe): What about these five patients? How come they lived?

A (Dr. Patronas): Well, it’s amazing, the fact that they are not handicapped from the side effects of any treatment, and the side effects of most aggressive treatments are worse than the tumor itself, so these particular individuals not only survived, but they didn’t have major side effects. So I think it’s impressive and unbelievable.

Q (Jaffe): How many times have you seen this in your experience? How often does this happen?

A (Dr. Patronas): I don’t. I have not seen it at any time.

Q (Jaffe): Now, let me ask you your opinion or advice. Based on what you have seen, what would happen, let’s say, for some reason Dr Burzynski’s brain tumor patients can’t get his medicine anymore, and have to go off treatment. What’s going to happen to them?

MR. HELMCAMP (prosecutor): Objection, Your Honor, not relevant.

MR. JAFFE (defense): I think it is relevant. That’s really the issue we are advocating in this case.

JUDGE: Overruled.

A (Dr. Patronas): I think these patients will die. [SOURCE: Original complete court transcript of the entire testimony 1993 (same as above)]

NARRATOR (reading from highlighted sections of “findings of fact and conclusions of law from this case”):
Not surprisingly, the judge ruled in Dr. Burzynski’s favor. Finding that the medical board did not introduce any evidence at the hearing that Antineoplastons are not safe and effective, nor did they introduce any competent or substantial evidence at the hearing that Antineoplastons are not generally recognized by experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate their safety and effectiveness. And, as far as the law goes, it does not apply to a licensed physician who manufactures his own medications and solely uses it on his own patients in the state of Texas. [SOURCE: Findings of Fact/Conclusions of Law 1993]

(EXTRA SOURCE: Letter from Homer Goehrs, MD (Radiation Oncologist) whose friend was treated by Antineoplastons who also wrote a letter to the Texas Medical Board in support of Burzynski]

NARRATOR:
Now, most would think that at this point the Texas Medical Board would stop wasting their time, Burzynski’s time, terminal cancer patients time, and the taxpayer's money, pursuing a case they knew they couldn't win. Well, think again.

MONTAGE OF VARIOUS NEW REPORTS FROM 1995.
News anchor VO#1:

The state of Texas wants Houston doctor Stanislaw Burzynski to stop treating his patients with drugs that he produces at his own pharmaceutical plant. The drugs called Antineoplastons are non-toxic compounds of proteins and amino acids, often lacking in cancer patients. Even though the state of Texas acknowledges that the drugs may be helping some who are terminally ill, the state says the drugs shouldn’t be used.

This is the state board of medical examiners, which licenses doctors in Texas, this is the agency challenging Dr. Burzynski in court. One judge has already told the board members that they don’t have a case.

MONTAGE (continued) Dr. Burzynski in 1995:
All of this nonsense which is going on now should disappear. Because they should realize that I am right, okay? They are fighting a losing battle. I am saving human lives, and if they put me out of business, these people will die.

MONTAGE (continued) News anchor VO#1:
This is the brain of an eight-year-old boy with a huge tumor most thought would kill him. He used Dr. Burzynski’s drug. Images of his skull taken six years later show the tumor has almost disappeared.

MONTAGE (continued) News anchor VO#2:
Dr. Bruce Cohen is the director of neurologic oncology at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic.

MONTAGE (continued) Dr. Bruce Cohen:
The only explanation is that it shrunk because of the therapy Paul has received.

MONTAGE (continued) News anchor VO#2:
He confirmed Dr. Burzynski’s results on Paul.

MONTAGE (continued) Paul’s mother:
Seven years that we’ve had Paul and he’s been healthy, I owe it to this man, and there is no way I’d ever be able to thank him enough for what he’s done for us.

MONTAGE (continued) News anchor VO#1:
Today that boy Paul Michaels and his anxious family sit in the courtroom with other patients.

NARRATOR:
Undeterred by the 1993 ruling, the Texas Medical Board took Dr. Burzynski to a higher, district court. Of course this time they knew that couldn’t raise any issues about whether or not his treatment was effective.

MONTAGE (continued) ABC News anchor #1:
The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, which has fought to suspend Dr. Burzynski’s license because his treatments have never been [FDA] approved, says quote: “The efficacy of Antineoplastons in the treatment of human cancers is not of issue in these proceedings.” [SOURCE: 1994 TMB Order Page 4, #23]

MONTAGE (continued) ABC News, Rick Jaffe (Burzynski’s attorney):
It takes a bureaucrat to come up with that idea, because, to a layman, that would really be the question.

MONTAGE (continued) ABC News:
Well, Dr. Burzynski has won his latest round in court, the Medical Examiners order was reversed, but that is not expected to be the end of his trouble with the state of Texas.

NARRATOR:
The Texas Medical Board took this imaginary case all the way to the Texas State supreme court, where the judge issued an erroneous probation order against Burzynski, which Burzynski successfully served. But, again, leaving the Texas Medical Board completely unsuccessful in their efforts to remove his medical license. [SOURCE: 1995 Final Order to TMB] So if efficacy was not an issue, and Dr. Burzynski wasn’t breaking any laws, then why would the Texas Medical Board continue on with this empty pursuit? Well, it was eventually realized, even by the mainstream press, that the Food and Drug Administration had been pressuring the Texas Medical Board to continue trying to take away Dr. Burzynski’s medical license.

ABC News clip:
For this story we wanted to talk to the FDA about it’s policies and procedures. The FDA did agree to talk to us on background where it wouldn't be quoted, but they repeatedly refused our requests for on-camera interviews.

 

[Proceed to Chapter Seven 48:03-1:13:42]

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