Someone acting for the Burzynski Clinic, Burzynski Research Institute, and Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, has written to Le Canard Noir of the Quackometer blog to make threats of legal action regarding a critical article he posted. The correspondence is aggressive (“Be smart and considerate for your family and new child, and shut the article down”), accusing the blogger of “lying” and being part of “a fraud network”.
The correspondence includes threats, unsubstantiated allegations about the blogger and other critics, and some very nice formatting in places – underlining, capital letters, and a bright red font. What it doesn’t include is an indication of the words complained of – i.e. the Burzynski representative refuses to tell Le Canard Noir what is wrong with the article, he just demands its removal.
One of the claims made is this: “you better do full research on Stephen Barrett who is not licensed, or ever was licensed“. Now, I did some research on Stephen Barrett – specifically, I checked to see if the claim made by Marc Stephens in the correspondence with Le Canard Noir was true. From a link here, I discovered that Stephen Barrett does have a medical license (MD005361E). It seems that Marc Stephens, rather than LCN, is the one who needs to “do full research on Stephen Barrett”.
There are a number of people who have responded to criticism of their unproven or disproven therapies with threats of legal action. A company called Rodial threatened a doctor with a lawsuit after she raised doubts about a “boob job cream”. Professor Frizelle’s response to the Chiropractors’ Association in New Zealand was impressive. The Society of Homeopaths sent the Quackometer’s hosting company Netcetera a complaint via their legal representatives and the page they had complained of was taken down (then mirrored by a bunch of other sites). Gillian McKeith’s legal threats are documented in this article in The Guardian. There was the famous case of Simon Singh and the British Chiropractic Association – a case that brought only defeat, a host of complaints against members, and ridicule from critics for the BCA. Matthias Rath versus Ben Goldacre saw Goldacre sued over criticism of Rath, who dropped the case and ended up being responsible for the Guardian’s legal costs.