Transcript - Chapter 7 of 10 - The FDA vs. Dr. Burzynski





48:03 - 1:13:42 - Interactive sourced transcript

ON-SCREEN TITLE CARD:

NARRATOR:
While they were busy pressuring the Texas State Medical Board to try to revoke Dr. Burzynski’s medial license, they were even busier trying to revoke Dr. Burzynski completely from society—by trying to place him in prison.

The FDA and PhRMA quickly realized that if Dr. Burzynski’s discovery would be given a fair review process, not only would chemotherapy and radiation dwindle into obscurity, financially crippling the industry, but it would also mean that for the first time in history, all of that income would funnel away from PhRMA and into the lap of one single scientist, who holds the exclusive patent rights. [SOURCE: Sample Patent (too many patents to list)]

Apparently, the FDA had not ruled out the possibility of this happening one day.

NARRATOR (reading from highlighted sections of “The Cancer Letter, Mar. 12, 1976”):
One March 12th, 1976, FDA Bureau of Drugs Director Richard Crout states in “The Cancer Letter”: when anyone other than large institutions ask permission to conduct clinical trials, you want harsh regulations, sometimes we say it is proper to hinder research, and once these guidelines were adopted, the FDA would consider itself “bound” by them. [SOURCE: Cancer Letter 3/12/76 pg 3]

NARRATOR:
In 1982, Crout states again, “I never have and never will approve a new drug to an individual, but only to a large pharmaceutical firm with unlimited finances.” [SOURCE: The Spotlight, January 18, 1982]

And so, the fiercest fight in FDA history began.

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE: Rick Jaffe, Burzynski’s attorney - Congressional Subcommittee hearing, July 25, 1995:
Dr. Burzynski’s dealings with the FDA commenced in 1983. At that point the FDA commenced a civil action to try to close the clinic and stop all patients from receiving the medicine.

NARRATOR (reading from highlighted sections of a Civil Action/Motion for Summary Judgment May 2, 1983):
Before the judge in this case had announced her ruling, the FDA sent her a letter, warning her in advance, if this court declines to grant the injunction sought be the government, thus permitting continued manufacture and distribution of antineoplastons, the government would then be obliged to pursue other less efficient remedies, such as "actions for seizure", also known as raiding his clinic and home. And "condemnation of the drugs", also known as a propaganda campaign. Or "criminal prosecution of individuals", also known as throwing Dr. Burzynski in prison. [SOURCE: 1983 FDA letter to Judge pg 2]

Regardless of these threats from the FDA...

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE: Rick Jaffe, Burzynski’s attorney - Congressional Subcommittee hearing, July 25, 1995 (continued):
... the judge in the case basically said he can treat anybody he wants in Texas, but he can’t ship his medicine in interstate commerce. The FDA viewed that as a failure and told Dr. Burzynski’s attorneys at the time that they “have other ways to get him”. Let’s talk about the other ways. In 1985, the FDA convened a grand jury to hear evidence to try to indict Dr. Burzynski. In connection with that they had a raid of his clinic where they seized 200,000 pieces of paper including all of his medical records of all patients. It’s a little difficult to practice medicine when you don’t have medical records.

Dr. STANISLAW BURZYNSKI - on camera interview:
Obviously they came armed, and they confiscated all of our medical records. It took us about 12 years, or 14 years to recover these medical records. In the meantime we were permitted to make copies of these medical records in their office. But it was also the neglect of human well-being, we were treating very sick people and they took their medical records, we needed these medical records to really fight for the lives of these patients. But they took this away, they didn’t care for these patients, the patients could die. They were not important.

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE: Rick Jaffe, Burzynski’s attorney - Congressional Subcommittee hearing, July 25, 1995 (continued):
They presented the evidence to the grand jury, no indictment. In 1986 they come back and seize another 100,000 documents, no indictment. In 1990, another grand jury, either the second or the third, they present more documents, Dr. Burzynski testifies extensively before the grand jury, no indictment. In 1991 to 1993, the FDA investigates Dr. Burzynski, we don’t know if evidence was presented to another grand jury. 1994, another grand jury, no indictment. 1995, another grand jury, this grand jury started in March of this year, on March 25th I believe it was Dr. Burzynski along with a few of his patients appeared on CBS Show This Morning...

ARCHIVAL NEWS FOOTAGE: CBS This Morning, 3/25/95, Host - Harry Smith:
Let me play devil’s advocate, here you all very desperate folk, had undergone some cancer treatment correct?

Patient, Mary Jo Siegel:
No, I had no treatment.

Host, Harry Smith:
None at all for you? Then let me go after these guys for example, you had undergone some treatment, could it not have been that the treatment that you received prior to Dr. Burzynski’s treatment was what in fact really cured you.

Neal Dublinsky - Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma patient/survivor:
I’ll jump on that, no way, because the recurrence I had was in a brand new spot that had not been involved before, so if all the punishment that I went through for the year went out of my system, and after it went out of my system all of the sudden a new tumor comes in, how could that first treatment have helped the subsequent tumor?

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE: Rick Jaffe, Burzynski’s attorney - Congressional Subcommittee hearing, July 25, 1995 (continued):
Later that day the FDA came, another raid. More patients documents, more subpoenas... [SOURCE: (not mentioned in film) 1995 letter from AMPAC re: FDA raid]

ARCHIVAL NEWS FOOTAGE: CBS This Morning, 3/28/95, Host - Harry Smith:
We were flooded with calls last Friday with people wanting to know how to get a hold of you, they are going to see this story this morning, see that you’ve been raided by the FDA, and they are going to want to know if you are for real, or if the concerns of the FDA may have something to do with your treatments and the viability of your treatments.

Rick Jaffe, Burzynski’s attorney: Let me jump in here, I don’t think there’s really an issue as I mentioned regarding the safety of the drug, and the FDA isn’t contending at this point that the drug doesn’t work, the only issue is that according to the FDA it has not been proven by controlled clinical trials, so at least in terms of safety the FDA isn’t saying that it’s not safe and the FDA isn’t even saying that it doesn’t work. Alright? Right now they’re just contesting, or apparently they’re contesting, whether Dr. Burzynski himself has been shipping the medicine out of state, which in some respects is quite ridiculous since he has approval to ship the medicine out of state to various cancer institutions around the country, he ships it out of the country to various countries, because it’s being used in other places and he ships it to individuals who have been granted permission by the FDA to receive the medicine under what is called “compassionate use INDs" (investigational new drug).

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE: Rick Jaffe, Burzynski’s attorney - Congressional Subcommittee hearing, July 25, 1995 (continued):
May, June, and July more witnesses testify before the grand jury, more documents. So we’ve had now—four, five, or six grand juries. Let me talk about the subpoena practices: most recently, the FDA has now subpoenaed the medical records of every patient who has gone on TV and told their story about Dr. Burzynski. We’ll let the committee judge what they think of that. Let's talk about dissemination of false information by the FDA, in 1985 the FDA tells anyone who calls inquiring about Dr. Burzynski that he’s being criminally investigated. When the judge in the case found out about that, he issued a cease and desist and a strong reprimand against that.

The FDA now has refined this tactic, instead of waiting for people to call up the FDA, what they’d done is subpoena all the records from Dr. Burzynski about his business associates and all the researchers around the world, and there are many of them who are researching Antineoplastons—his therapy. Now what they are doing is systematically contacting everyone, who does business with him, or who may do business with him, and telling about the grand jury investigations and subpoenaing documents. I believe that they are doing this in order to make it more difficult for him to do business.

I’d like the following questions to be asked to the FDA: how much money have they spent in the last ten years to try to put Dr. Burzynski out of business? How many documents can they subpoena? And how many more grand juries does he have to go to? And why can’t patients, who have advanced cancer, seek the medical treatment of their choice?

NARRATOR:
Upon the commencement of the FDA’s 1995 grand jury against Dr. Burzynski, an oversight and investigations subcommittee was organized by Congressman Joe Barton in an attempt to intervene in the FDA’s relentless harassment of Dr. Burzynski and his patients.

ON-SCREEN TITLE:
Dr. David A. Kessler Commissioner, The Food and Drug Administration

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE:
Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee Hearings 11/15/95; Hon. Joe Barton:
In my opinion, you have every right to use the investigative authority and the judicial resources of the federal government to the justice department convene a grand jury, that’s very appropriate, the first time, perhaps even the second time, it becomes questionable the third time, the fourth time, and the fifth time, it is not I think an illogical conclusion to think that the FDA has a vendetta against Dr. Burzynski, or wants to retaliate for some reason, now that’s my opinion. How many grand jury investigations have to occur, that result in no finding of fault before you as commissioner of the FDA would encourage those within your organization to cease and desist?

Dr. David Kessler:
Mr. Chairman, how do you know that there were no findings of fault that were returned from that grand jury?

Hon. Joe Barton:
There have been no indictments returned.

Dr. David Kessler:
Mr. Chairman, I’ll ask council to comment, but I don’t think those are the same—as a matter of law those are the same things.

Hon. Joe Barton:
I’m baffled by the splitting of hairs here but...

Committee member:
I am just trying to understand the exchange between the witness and the chairman. What I understood the chairman to say is that there have been four grand juries convened?

Hon. Joe Barton:
At least four.

Committee member:
I am left then, with rather strong inference, that if you convene four separate grand juries and there is no indictment returned, not withstanding that prosecutors tell us always that it’s possible to indict a ham sandwich—that probably there’s not much there.

[SOURCE: (not mentioned in film) Letter from Congress to Janet Reno to end the FDA harassment and abuse of the criminal justice system against Burzynski]

NARRATOR:
Dozen’s of Dr. Burzynski’s patients who had traveled to Washington D.C. from all corners of the United States stood up and expressed their outrage with the FDA and Commissioner David Kessler.

Patient #1:
The FDA has made a list, and decided who can live and who will die, I guess I didn’t make that list.

Patient #2:
I’ve had no chemotherapy, I’ve had no radiation, I choose Dr. Burzynski instead after a lot of research and a lot of searching. I’ve been in remission since 1989. Dr. Kessler, I’m not a statistic.

Patient #3:
We’re frustrated, there are rights—our constitutional rights have been violated, this has got to end, my children are asking me “daddy what does the future hold”, my one daughter wrote a letter to the president of this country and said “please don’t pull the pug on my daddy”. And that just broke my heart and broke my wife’s heart.

Patient #3’s wife:
My husband is a walking miracle, sixteen months ago our doctors told us there is nothing else they can do, and they told us to enjoy what little life he has left. Look at him, he biked 32 miles after being on Dr. Burzynski’s treatment for two months—and they’re saying we can’t have it?!

Patient #4:
I have a report from my family physician which tells how well I am doing, my tumors are leaving my body, and condition is improving every day. Now the FDA is saying to me “no, your doctor is a criminal, he should be put in jail, and he needs to be shut down” ... this, is criminal !!

Patient #5:
I want the FDA to get out of our lives and stay out of our doctor-patient relationship.

Patient #6:
What the classical conventional medicine had to do for me was there—nothing. For me, the next thing was the minister. I did not want to undergo chemotherapy, which I had a new name for, “kill ‘em therapy”. Or any type of radiation, I was extremely lucky that I found Dr. Burzynski. And I don’t want the FDA to take this right from me. I came eighteen years ago from Communist Romania, and the tyrant dictator Ceauscescu, never stopped a doctor from treating anybody. How can we have something like this in the United States?

NARRATOR:
Barely a week after these hearings, on November 20th, 1995, Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski was indicted. Burzynski was charged with 75 counts of violating federal law and fraud. If convicted, Burzynski would face a maximum of 290 years in a federal prison, and $18.5 million dollars in fines. Not to mention what would happen to his patients.

MONTAGE OF VARIOUS NEW REPORTS FROM 1996; “Hard Copy” anchor:
He is their last chance for life, but now the federal government is issuing a death sentence for the patients of this cancer doctor. “ABC” anchor:On February 9th, Houston federal court judge Sim Lake ruled Dr. Burzynski’s treatments have been quote “illegal under Texas and Federal Law since 1984” and he ordered them stopped on all but a handful of patients. Then, he put a stay on his own order, a stay of execution.

Dr. Burzynski on "Hard Copy" 1996:
I believe that most of these 300 people will die within a short period of time if the treatment is stopped.

NARRATOR:
In 1996, not only did scores of Dr. Burzynski’s patients return to Washington DC to protest his indictment, but many of them testified again before another Congressional Hearing headed by Congressman Joe Barton.

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE: Congressional Subcommittee Hearing 2/29/96:
Hon. Joe Barton:
Our first witness is Mariann Kunnari, is that correct?

Mariann Kunnari: Yes, that’s correct.

Hon. Joe Barton:
From Aurora, Minnesota.

Mariann Kunnari (with son Dustin):
This is Dustin Kunnari and he is on Dr. Burzynski’s antineoplaston treatment. And this is my husband, Jack Kunnari. Now, in February of 1994 our lives were drastically changed. My son Dustin was only two and a half years old at the time—he has diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. The surgeon removed 75% of his tumor, and the remaining 25% was diagnosed from a biopsy as a malignant, very aggressive medulloblastoma brain tumor—one of the most deadly forms of brain cancer. The doctors told us Dustin had only a few months to live. The first treatment offered us was radiation. But the radiation doctor told us that at his young age, Dustin would become a vegetable, and it would only extend his life for maybe a few months. The next doctor wanted us to enroll Dustin into an experimental chemotherapy, which was highly toxic. The side effects would include hearing loss, kidney and liver damage, bladder, stunted growth and a possible leukemia. One question I’d like to ask is: would you do that to your child?

We weighed the harm these experimental drugs would cause against the fact that they would not cure Dustin, and decided not to subject him to these drastic measures. But our oncologists told us that their opinion took precedence over us as parents. This put added stress to the already stressful situation we were in. In April of 1994, we visited Dr.  Stanislaw Burzynski in Houston. Dr. Burzynski made us no promises, but said, that he “often had good results with brain tumors, at worst it would not hurt Dustin” and it offered the best hope in a longer quality of life. An MRI six weeks after we started Dr. Burzynski’s treatment revealed no tumor. We were very overjoyed.

Dustin continued Antineoplaston therapy, and one year later a tumor one-inch by one-inch in size was found on the MRI, that would be in April of 1995. Dr. Burzynski immediately raised Dustin’s dose of Antineoplastons. There were still no harsh side-effects at all. The next MRI in September of 1995 revealed that the tumor had almost disappeared again. To this day, it has not reappeared. If you look at Dustin right now, he’s a happy, healthy four-year-old, who has out-lived his prognosis. There is not a traditional treatment that would have kept him alive, with such good quality of life.

FDA Commissioner David Kessler loves to grab headlines as a man who loves children so much he wants to protect them from the ravishes of smoking. If Dr. Kessler loves children so much, why have he and his agency been trying so hard to cut off my son’s last hope for life? Without this treatment, my son will die.

NARRATOR (with photos of Dustin Kunnari):
This is a photo of Dustin Kunnari at four years old in 1996. This is photo of Dustin Kunnari at 18 years old in 2009, and his brain cancer never returned.

Dr. STANISLAW BURZYNSKI - on camera interview:
In 1996, because of pressure from the politicians and American opinion, the FDA agreed to accept all of the patients for whom we had at the time into a program of Phase II clinical trials. Basically we filed and received permission from the FDA to proceed with 72 different Phase II clinical trials which covered practically any type of cancer. This was such tremendous work, that basically it was necessary for me to work almost around-the-clock, with six secretaries who were typing different protocols, and later I learned that the FDA had to create a special task force to review these protocols. We have soft tissue sarcoma, there is a special protocol for that. You have breast cancer—a special protocol. For lung cancer, a few different protocols. For brain tumors, about over twenty different protocols for different types of brain tumors.

NARRATOR:
So, just a year before his trial facing life in prison, the Food and Drug Administration had finally authorized the very thing that Dr. Burzynski and his patients had ever wanted. Even still, the FDA would not back down in making sure Burzynski’s [criminal] trial moved forward.

NARRATOR (reading from highlighted sections of a Washington Times article, Dec. 5, 1996):
Federal prosecutors concede that a cancer doctor they will put on trial here in January for using an innovative but unapproved drug has been “saving lives.” The prosecution marks the first time the FDA has tried to jail a scientist for using a drug on which he is conducting FDA-authorized clinical trials. In a pre-trial motion, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Clark objected to a defense request for the jury to visit the chemical plant where Dr. Burzynski manufactures antineoplaston. The jury visit request “is a thinly veiled effort to expose the jury to the specter of Dr. Burzynski in his act of saving lives.” Whether antineoplaston does or does not work is not an issue, and the jury should not be asked to decide the question. He added that if the issue comes up at trial, it would be an irrelevant, emotional, prejudicial and misleading concern. [SOURCE: Wash Times 12/5/96]

ARCHIVAL NEWS FOOTAGE: CNN, Charles Zewe, Jan. 1997:
The issue of whether Antineoplastons work may not even come up at the trial. The judge says “that’s not relevant.” But the defense contends that’s exactly the point. And what was done in developing the drug and administering it, was done to save lives.

NARRATOR:
This trial cost the American taxpayer $60 million dollars. While costing Dr. Burzynski over $2.2 million. $700,000 dollars of Burzynski’s legal defense was raised primarily by Dr. Julian Whitaker through his newsletter “Health and Healing”. After Dr. Whitaker wrote of the plight an injustice being done to Dr. Burzynski, his readers sent in close to 18,000 checks in small donations for Burzynski’s legal defense. [SOURCE: Whitaker's Health & Healing 1996]

ARCHIVAL NEWS FOOTAGE: CNN, Charles Zewe (VO), Jan. 1997:
The trial is expected to last about two months, the jury will then decide whether Burzynski is a fraud, or a medical pioneer.

NARRATOR:
On March 4th, 1997, due to a deadlocked jury, the judge declared a mistrial. And, after saying the government had not presented sufficient evidence, he ordered that Dr. Burzynski be acquitted of nearly half of the 75 counts. [SOURCE: NY Times 3/4/97] [SOURCE: Court Document showing first acquittal]

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE MONTAGE: The jurors, March 4, 1997:
Q: You voted to acquit?

Juror #1: To acquit, absolutely.

Juror #2: Not guilty.

Juror #3: I voted for acquittal.

Juror #4: I voted my mind, and my heart...

Juror #3: I do not believe that Dr. Burzynski is a criminal.

Juror #4: ...and I had voted to acquit...

NARRATOR:
But the FDA was still not backing down. They took Dr. Burzynski to trial, again. Though, after apparently accepting the absurdity of their case, on May 19th the FDA suddenly dropped 40 of the 41 remaining charges. [SOURCE: NY Times 5/18/97] [SOURCE: Court Document showing Dismissal]

The FDA’s facade in trying to convince the world that Burzynski was a criminal was completely unraveling. Even the jurors who voted not guilty in the first case, took time off of work to join the patients’ protest in front of the court house during the second case.

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE MONTAGE: The Jurors, March 19, 1997:
Juror #4: I am appalled at the Food and Drug Administration and their actions.

Juror #5: We’re here today, basically, to protest the witch hunt that’s going on by the FDA.

Juror #1: We have to stick together and really support these patients that are suffering not only health-wise but having to come down here to make a stand against the FDA.

Juror #6: Please don’t waste my money abusing the system to make sure that you maintain your power.

NARRATOR:
The jury spent about three hours deliberating this house of cards, leaving Burzynski acquitted of the final charge. [SOURCE: Court Document showing final acquittal]

ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE MONTAGE: Rick Jaffe (Burzynski’s attorney), March 19, 1997:
Every one of Dr. Burzynski’s patients now, every future Burzynski patient, is and will be on a clinical trial.

Dr. STANISLAW BURZYNSKI - on camera interview:
There were many patients who would have liked to testify on our behalf and convince the jury and the judge that without the treatment they would die. But the judge did not admit any statements which could show that the treatment is effective. The judge did not allow the jury to visit our facility where we produce the medicine, they were trying to keep it away from the jury. If this information would have been presented to the jurors, then this trial would have been finished very quickly. [SOURCE: Wash Times 12/5/96]

And that’s what the jurors told us because after the trial we talked to the jurors, and they were shocked that such information about the treatment which was saving the lives of patients was not presented to them. And I was sick listening to the lies of prosecutors from the U.S. Attorneys.

It was not necessary for them to do it, they could tell the truth, they represented the biggest power, but they still were doing this all the time. So they were trying to do it in a sneaky way, and that’s what is horrible, that’s what should be exposed because I think the United States deserves better.

(Not included in film: Read a letter from Oncologist Robert Burdick, MD of Seattle Washington to Federal Judge Sim Lake—who reviewed Burzynski's patients and verified and vouched for his treatment).

[Proceed to Chapter Eight 1:13:42- 1:30:18]

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