LETTER TO THE EDITOR: There was good news, there was bad news

To the Editor:

Last week’s Beacon featured two articles regarding COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus). One, by Dr. Lauren Hana, was a thorough review of our current understanding about this new virus that has spread widely around the world and is now spreading in the United States. Dr. Hana effectively summarizes current information to help residents of Boca Grande learn more about this viral illness which goes a long way to alleviate anxiety associated with incomplete or incorrect information. This is key to our public health response.

In contrast, the Beacon also featured an article by Dr. W Gifford-Jones who advocates the use of high-dose intravenous vitamin C for patients suffering from the effects of COVID-19.  He states, “Not to provide it [IV vitamin C] is akin to medical murder.” This pronouncement regarding the treatment of this virus is not only inflammatory, it is not supported by any recognized scientific evidence.  

I performed a literature search and cannot find a single reputable reference documenting the use of IV C in the treatment of this virus. In fact, the most current information about the use of IVC in infection  (“Investigational and Ineffective Therapies for Sepsis” in Up to Date,GA Schmidt MD and PF Clardy MD- updated January 31, 2020 and accessed on line March 1, 2020) references two recent randomized studies of hundreds of patients with sepsis (significant systemic infection) and ARDS (respiratory failure) that show “no benefit.”  Dr. Gifford-Jones references “international members of the Orthomolecular News Service” who “reported that the use of IVC results in clinical improvement within two to three hours.”  

Orthomolecular medicine is a form of alternative medicine based on nutritional supplementation. These theories have not been supported by scientific evidence and are not embraced by the majority of physicians. In addition, Dr. Gifford-Jones fails to mention that high-dose intravenous vitamin C is contraindicated in some people (those with renal impairment) and to be avoided in those with a host of other conditions.

In the face of the novel corona virus pandemic, it is irresponsible to lead the residents of Boca Grande to believe that intravenous vitamin C is appropriate therapy. We should continue to look to our trusted sources like the CDC,state and local public health officials and in Boca Grande to our Health Center physicians for reliable advice about this new infectious disease.

Richard J. Perry, MD

Boca Grande