Are you B12 deficient? Why treatment has to change.

  • 2 Oct 2014
  • Reading time 2 mins
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Many people who suffer from tiredness, failing mood and memory lack vitamin B12, known as pernicious anaemia, and take years to be diagnosed, but even then, don't receive the right treatment which involves B12 injections due to very poor absorption.

A recent survey of members of the Pernicious Anaemia Society1 highlighted the disparity and inequality of treatment among patients. By far the biggest cause of concern to patients is the frequency that they receive their replacement therapy injections. Whereas the British National Formulary recommended a 1mg/ml injection of Hydroxocobalamin (B12) every month in the 1960s, that was changed to every two months in 1974 and then to every three months in 19842. Patients who request more frequent injections as they begin to experience a return of the symptoms of the deficiency are all too frequently offered anti-depressants. And it’s not always the patient who notices a return of their symptoms; frequently it is the patients’ families and friends who identify changes in the patient’s behaviour and demeanour. Some patients are lucky enough to have a family doctor who will prescribe more frequent injections whilst others suffer needlessly, often under-performing in the workplace with all of the consequences that brings with it. Others become embroiled in family strife whilst others have no option other than to suffer in silence and count the days until their next injection. Doctors don’t yet know why some people need more frequent injections than others.

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There are three other options for those who cannot get treatment according to their needs. Some visit countries in continental Europe where injections are available over the counter in pharmacies. Some visit doctors outside the NHS, others buy B12 injections, nasal sprays, sub-lingual drops, skin patches or sub-lingual lozenges via internet ‘pharmacies’. The current way in which Pernicious Anaemia is treated causes inequality and needless suffering. Please sign this petition to change this.

References

  1. Hooper M, Hudson P, Porter F, McCaddon A; Patients Journeys: Diagnosis and Treatment of Pernicious Anaemia; British Journal of Nursing, 2014, Vol 23, No 7
  2. Hooper M: Pernicious Anaemia: the forgotten disease; Hammersmith Health Books, London, 2012
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