US group accused over cancer fraud

Updated: 2012-02-02 19:52


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SHANGHAI - A prominent Chinese science organization has slammed an American medical institute, accusing its doctors of deceiving Chinese patients with a controversial cancer treatment.

Li Qingchen, a doctor and member of Scientific Squirrels, a Chinese organization dedicated to the dissemination of scientific knowledge, said Thursday that the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) has been using an unapproved cancer therapy to swindle Chinese patients.

Li added that the American Cancer Society has found no evidence that the cancer treatment being used by A4M benefits cancer patients.

The Chinese representative office of A4M claimed on its website that it could offer a "breakthrough cancer therapy" developed by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, who asserts that cancer can be treated with antineoplastons, a group of amino acids and petides normally found in urine and blood.

The organization also posted dozens of promotional videos and blogs on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site.

Scientific Squirrels said the antineoplaston therapy is only in its second phase of clinical trials and has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be sold in the market, citing an introduction from the National Cancer Institute in America.

"It is suspected that Chinese patients have been tricked into going to America to be laboratory rats," Li said.

The FDA has permitted antineoplaston therapy to be used at Buzynski's clinic, although the agency issued a warning letter to the Burzynski Research Institute in 2009, stating that its institutional review board "did not adhere to the applicable statutory requirements and FDA regulations governing the protection of human subjects."

Responding to the accusation from Scientific Squirrels, A4M's representative office said it has sent letters to Scientific Squirrels and Li Qingchen.

The Chinese State Food and Drug Administration has not included antineoplastons on its list of approved imported drugs, according to the administration's website.

"I have never heard of antineoplastons," said Yu Xiong, deputy president of the Shanghai Institute of Pharmaceutical Industry.

The research institute can unveil the drug's phase two clinical data, but is not allowed to brand its effects, Yu said.

Wang Youzhi, director of the inspection department of the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, said advertisements for phase-two trial drugs are forbidden in China, and the drugs can be treated as counterfeit medicine if they are found to be sold on the market.

Wang added that China does not permit any representative offices to charge fees for conducting operations.