Go back to your GP if they used the previous BSH Guidance against you!

Many voices make a difference!

Well done everyone who wrote to the BSH (British Society for Haematology) regarding their previous misinformed COVID 19 Guidance for those with B12 deficiency.

They have thankfully now updated their website with much more sensible advice so if your GP followed their previous statement – Please get them to take a look at this new link in order to get your B12 injections reinstated. They have now helpfully made the clear distinction between non dietary and dietary lack.

Highlights include:

“The need for intramuscular (IM) hydroxocobalamin should be discussed with each patient individually.

…….Alternatives to attending the GP surgery such as local pharmacies or home administration by district nurses should be explored.

……. As an alternative, oral cyanocobalamin can be offered at a dose of 1 mg per day until regular IM hydroxocobalamin can be resumed, i.e. once GP surgeries are able to do so safely, aiming to have a shortest possible break from regular injections.

…..Patients should be advised to monitor their symptoms and should contact their GP if they begin to experience neurological or neuropsychiatric symptoms such as pins and needles, numbness, problem with memory or concentration or irritability.”

Thank you to Rita – BSH Guidelines Programme Manager, for responding so swiftly.

My apologies I put this on social media a few days ago and forgot to blog!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

More news:

The BBC have shown interest in our issue but as things with COVID 19 have escalated since our initial contact and finding an interviewee, we are currently on the back burner. I will keep you posted with any further developments.

Research

Those of us in need of B12 injections know that they are not a placebo despite what some clinicians believe.  In fact B12 is a known toxin scavenger and has long been identified as a poisons antidote.

So while some UK doctors are stopping B12 injections for those who need them to live well and function, medical researchers are looking at ways to combat COVID 19 and believe that B12 and nicotinamide (B3) can help.

University of Oxford’s Carmen Wheatley’s research;

SARS-Cov-2/Covid/19 ADULT RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME /ARDS: HIGH DOSE IV METHYLCOBALAMIN IS A SAFE & COST EFFECTIVE RESCUE TREATMENT for ARDS

“A SAFE AND EFFICACIOUS PROPHYLACTIC /TREATMENT FOR COVID19, TO PREVENT AND TREAT ACUTE RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME, ALREADY EXISTS: RESPECTIVELY using HIGH DOSE IM AND IV METHYLCOBALAMIN FORM OF VITAMIN B12. The hydroxocobalamin form of B12 has been used in ICUs in France, Italy and China for nearly 70 years, as the anti-CN antidote of choice. It is safe, licensed and available. Methylcobalamin would be preferable, for a number of research based reasons. But both could be life savers in the current health crisis.”

and:

Virtual screening and repurposing of FDA approved drugs against COVID-19 main protease

Key findings

COVID-19 Mpro formed a phylogenetic group with SARS CoV that was distant from MERS CoV. The identity% was 96.061 and 51.61 for COVID-19/SARS and COVID-19/MERS CoV sequence comparisons, respectively. The top 20 drugs in the virtual screening studies comprised a broad-spectrum antiviral (ribavirin), anti-hepatitis B virus (telbivudine), two vitamins (vitamin B12 and nicotinamide) and other miscellaneous systemically acting drugs. Of special interest, ribavirin had been used in treating cases of SARS CoV.

 _______________________________________________________________________

 

Best wishes and keep safe,

Tracey
www.b12deficiency.info

You can find all the blogs relating to COVID 19 on this new page

Now is the time to make B12 injections OTC, GET INVOLVED, email the MHRA with me!

What’s the kindest, simplest and cheapest way forward with B12 injections?

By removing barriers and making B12 injections available over the counter, that’s what. Simple.

Will you join me in emailing the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency – Gov.uk) so we can make this happen?

This one act would save lives, unburden the NHS, free up time in GP Practices and give a sense of peace and wellbeing to B12 deficient people across the UK.

After all dear regulators:
B12 is safe – B12 is inexpensive – B12 cannot be over dosed
We are adults, we can do this, we will be fine.

YOU CAN TRUST US!

Lets remove barriers and make B12 injections available OTC.

There are estimated to be 5.7 Million people in the UK with B12 deficiency, this is more than the entire population of Finland! Just imagine this many people being allowed to look after themselves, inject when needed and no longer feel a burden or irritant to the NHS. Just imagine the enormity of the potential financial savings, to the NHS and to society as a whole.

Our current situation
The COVID 19 pandemic has made a great many B12 patients feel that they don’t matter, that our health system doesn’t care. The recent letters received by many patients from their GP Practices show just how little so many health professionals understand about B12 deficiency. You can read more about the impact here along with bizarre changing advice for GP’s here and the patient comments at the foot of previous blogs.

The NHS 

Just about everybody in the UK knows of someone who works for the NHS and fully appreciates what they are up against. The very last thing anyone wants to do is make things worse but the situation some B12 deficient patients find themselves in currently is intolerable.

Some GP’s are helping patients to self inject,(as instructed by the BMA) but others are point blank refusing to engage at all with their anxious, depressed and desperate patients. Some feel they have no choice but to buy injectable B12 from abroad to keep themselves safe. This can’t be right can it?

After all ‘B12 clinics’ hairdressers and beauty therapists can get away with selling B12 injections at vastly inflated prices as a “health boost” or “health benefit’ when the real price of the ampoule is around 60 pence. Isn’t this odd when those of us who need it as a ‘medicine’ can’t buy it safely from pharmacy in the UK when many other nations can?

The MHRA are the organisation who hold all the cards, who can help us to make this happen, they are the people we are petitioning to make B12 available OTC.

The solution?  MAKE B12 injections available OTC. SIMPLE.

What we need is an urgent reclassification of B12 injections from Prescription-only medicine (POM) to pharmacy (P) medicine  this could and really should be easy, especially now when it seems these days, hard fast rules can change with a blink of an eye.

Years ago I wrote to all the Marketing Authorisation holders of hydroxocobalamin in the UK. I know that to reclassify our B12 injections from a POM to a P would usually require some form filling an exchange of funds and removal of the over riding one small, but obstructive statement in the current legislation, detailed below.

I was told; “Before a medicine can be reclassified from POM to P, Ministers must be satisfied that it would be safe to allow it to be supplied without a prescription. This means that it is a medicine which no longer meets any of the following criteria (Human Medicines Regulations 2012, regulation 62(3)).

This below is one of the criteria which applies in our case and what so far has stopped us from buying B12 injections OTC and self treating.

3 (d)is normally prescribed by a doctor or dentist for parenteral administration.

During the present crisis, wouldn’t now be a sensible time to cut through the red tape for the good of all and future-proof our access to this essential medicine?

You can find the Reclassification criteria here

and  HOW TO CHANGE THE LEGAL CLASSIFICATION OF A MEDICINE IN THE UK 

The underlying principle for classifying medicines is to maximise timely access to effective medicines while minimising the risk of harm from inappropriate use.

Making medicines available over-the-counter: the trade-offs (see page 4)

You see, our B12 injections are perfect for this!

 

More from the MHRA, they say:

Public and professional input
We are committed to widening access to medicines for the benefit of public health when it is safe to do so, and we are seeking input from patients and health professionals into the reclassification process. In addition to safety considerations, a key factor in the reclassification process is focusing on issues that matter to patients and health professionals. In order to understand those issues we run stakeholder groups and public consultations.

So here’s your call to action!

On this page the MHRA ask patients to get involved, inviting us to email them, they state:

Get involved!
“We would like to hear from patients with an interest in medicines and self-care, and community pharmacists, GPs, nurses and healthcare professionals who are currently working in a patient-facing role and who are willing to reflect on professional issues and attend a short meeting if required. If you are interested in taking part, please email engagement@mhra.gov.uk We will keep your details and contact you when a specific product is under discussion.”

So PLEASE do this! Ask them to help us to access what we need and to remove the barriers to our well being.

Please email them, engagement@mhra.gov.uk telling them why you want Hydroxocobalamin B12 injections reclassified.

You can cut and paste the sample text below by using this link:

Please urgently reclassify Hydroxocobalamin B12 injections from a POM to a P.

COVID 19 has meant cancelled or restricted injections for B12 deficient patients even though Hydroxocobalamin is listed as an essential medicine by WHO

Please see; https://www.b12deficiency.info/blog/2020/04/18/covid-19-is-leaving-b12-deficient-patients-unprotected-traumatised/

Please see this petition for all the many reasons why they should be made OTC:

https://www.change.org/p/dr-june-raine-please-make-our-life-saving-injectable-vitamin-b12-hydroxocobalamin-available-over-the-counter?

Please remove the barriers to me being well. B12 is safe, I cannot overdose. I am an adult. Trust me as others in the world are trusted to self inject.

Yours sincerely ………………

 

Please get involved and make your voice count! Just think of the relief for all concerned if we could be in charge of our own healing.

Best wishes
Tracey

www.b12deficiency.info

If you haven’t signed yet please join the 90,567 people who have.

COVID 19 is leaving B12 deficient patients unprotected & traumatised….

Gradually, everything that was remotely protective for B12 deficient patients appears to be being deleted, eroded and changed to suit those who seem intent on switching us permanently to tablets which won’t help to repair nerves.

B12 supports the immune system, it is vital for life, injections are required to keep those of us who cannot absorb B12 from food well and functioning. The WHO list hydroxocobalamin as an essential medicine. Humans simply cannot live without it and should not be forced to, but that’s what’s happening now.

Those having injections regularly cannot absorb B12 from food, it is not dietary lack that brought them to their knees it was one of the other many causes of B12 deficiency.

Many are terrified to challenge their GP’s, many who have asked to be allowed to self inject have been ignored. Nurses are calling patients for their agreement to permanently switch their future treatment to tablets only. This must be resisted at all costs, see why below. Patients are already traumatised by COVID, separated from their loved ones and then have to deal without vital treatment because of a distinct lack of understanding of this very common and commonly misdiagnosed condition.

Things are changing day by day and there is no one sensible source of information for our GP’s. Some patients have had letters stating the GP’s are following advice from Public Health England, NHS England, CCG’s, etc and some even say ‘advice from Europe’.

 

The situation is an absolute disaster and needs sorting fast.

Patients need vital injections

Patients can be taught to give injections, we can be trusted, we are adults

Patients can then function, can do their Key work, can look after their families, can maintain mobility, can reduce pain levels and keep mental health problems at bay.

The BMA (British Medical Association) March

In March the BMA produced a traffic light workload prioritisation table for the RCGP.

Stating:
………Past experience has shown that patients will die from non-COVID-19 related illnesses in addition to COVID-19 itself as we divert all of our health care resources towards it (1). General Practice has a huge role to play in maintaining the underlying health of our population in an attempt to prevent this. It is vital that we continue to provide care to all patients if we have the capacity, with workloads stratified to ensure that those at greatest need are prioritised.”

It uses the following headings:

GREEN – CONTINUE      AMBER – IF POSSIBLE       RED – STOP

B12 injections are under Amber as follows;

“Vitamin B12 injections – consider teaching appropriate patients to self-administer and ensure frequency is not more than 12 weekly”

(Not more than 12 weekly eh? That’s not what NICE say – see below!).

BMA April

B12 injections have since been downgraded by the BMA and the headings have been changed, only a few are now considered “Medium Priority” as of April the 10th 2020.

Amber – Medium Priority

“Vitamin B12 injections for post bariatric surgery patients – consider teaching appropriate patients to self-administer and ensure frequency is not more than 12 weekly. Review whether oral supplementation would be appropriate”.

Red – Lower Priority

“Vitamin B12 injections – consider teaching appropriate patients to self-administer and ensure frequency is not more than 12 weekly. Review whether oral supplementation would be appropriate if asymptomatic with a dietary deficiency ” BMJ 2019 https://www.bmj.com/content/365/bmj.l1865

The question is, why during this crisis, isn’t our immunity boosting, life saving vitamin injection for people who can’t absorb B12 from food in the Green band? It simply doesn’t make any sense.

This is what NICE CKS states, that if B12 deficiency is;

Not thought to be diet related — administer hydroxocobalamin 1 mg intramuscularly every 2–3 months for life.
Thought to be diet related — advise people either to take oral cyanocobalamin tablets 50–150 micrograms daily between meals, or have a twice-yearly hydroxocobalamin 1 mg injection.

British Society for Haematology (BSH) is moving goal posts; 

BSH advice during the COVID19 pandemic now decide that those of us who rely on B12 injections can now access our non existent liver stores, here’s an excerpt below;

Liver stores last for a year and hence levels of B12 will not be affected if one to two 3 monthly injection is omitted in patients on maintenance parenteral  B12 supplements.  BSH supports omitting B12 injections even in this group during COVID19 outbreak at least until the surge has passed.

For patients who report symptoms in the weeks  preceding B12 injection, oral B12 50-150 micrograms per day can be offered as an alternative because there will still be sufficient absorption.  If still very symptomatic then B12 injection can be given with clear understanding that the interaction with healthcare increases transmission risk of COVID19. We suggest taking the opportunity to measure B12.

FAO/WHO 2001. Human Vitamin and Mineral Requirements. Chapter 5.
“…..Interruption of this so-called enterohepatic circulation of vitamin B12 causes the body to go into a significant negative balance for the vitamin. Although the body typically has sufficient vitamin B12 stores to last 3-5 years, once PA has been established the lack of absorption of new vitamin B12 is compounded by the loss of the vitamin because of negative balance. When the stores have been depleted, the final stages of deficiency are often quite rapid, resulting in death in a period of months if left untreated.” 

 

Oral B12 research 

Patients during the crisis are now regularly told that they can in fact absorb B12 from cyanocobalamin tablets and yet:

A review from Cochrane; (Wang et al., 2018) details this: …… 

No study reported on clinical signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency (e.g. fatigue, depression, neurological complications), health-related quality of life, or acceptability of the treatment scheme.”

Authors’ conclusions:  “Low quality evidence shows oral and IM vitamin B12 having similar effects in terms of normalising serum vitamin B12 levels, but oral treatment costs less.  We found very low-quality evidence that oral vitamin B12 appears as safe as IM vitamin B12.  Further trials should conduct better randomisation and blinding procedures, recruit more participants, and provide adequate reporting.  Future trials should also measure important outcomes such as the clinical signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, health related-quality of life, socioeconomic effects, and report adverse events adequately, preferably in a primary care setting.

The Difficulties With Vitamin B12

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27009308/?i=5&from=b12

A 22-year-old woman presented with progressive sensory ataxia and optic neuropathy. Previous investigation by her general practitioner had found a low serum vitamin B12, which had been corrected with oral supplementation. Neurological investigations showed raised plasma homocysteine and methylmalonic acid towards the upper limit of normal with a low serum vitamin B12 MRI showed an extensive cord lesion in keeping with subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord. We treated her with high dose parenteral vitamin B12 and she has made a partial recovery. We discuss the management of patients who present with neurological manifestations of vitamin B12 deficiency; highlighting the fact that parenteral replacement is needed in such cases, even if the serum vitamin B12 level appears to be normal. We also discuss ancillary investigations that should be performed in patients with suspected vitamin B12 deficiency.

Caution note from the B12 institute about oral supplements .

____________________________________

Everyone making the rules is watching the smoke but not one is seeing the fire…..

People in crisis sometimes make bad decisions and stopping B12 injections is one of them, it’s short sighted and harmful and there will be a price to pay if things don’t change soon.

A simple solution would be to allow us to buy injectable B12 OTC as is allowed in many other countries, which leads me to my next blog.

Best wishes and keep safe
Tracey

www.b12deficiency.info

(Thank you Dr Katie Brooks for finding WHO ref)

Incontinence in women, men & children

One of my symptoms of B12 deficiency was bladder incontinence, I had to keep going to the loo and there was no let up during the small hours either.

Thankfully this was one of my symptoms which corrected within the first weeks of regular B12 injections. Had I not realised I was B12 deficient, I may have believed it was due to my age or my shoe size or my eye colour and perhaps even ‘perfectly normal’. Some of us have difficulty seeking help for incontinence and see it as something to ‘put up with’ rather than something that could and should be treated.

Each time I see TV adverts for companies selling incontinence pads (or those weird ‘pretty??!’ crepe britches) showing young women stating that incontinence is ‘perfectly normal’ I’ll ask the telly, “what if it’s caused by B12 deficiency?”

Apparently 1 in 3 women experience bladder leaks, this is a massive number, some of whom might potentially be in need of B12 but may be unaware of low B12 being a cause.

This report from the BBC shows that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has issues with these adverts. They criticised TENA for not highlighting to mothers that treatment for the condition is available.

The RCN said: “Incontinence is known to be under reported due to the embarrassment experienced by women living with the condition.

Female incontinence
As you’ll see from the information on the NHS link below, there are a few causes for bladder incontinence related to the pelvic floor muscles, and although they do list ‘neurological conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis’  –  just think how helpful it would be if they could alert people by adding B12 deficiency to this list?

  • damage during childbirth – particularly if your baby was born vaginally, rather than by caesarean section
  • increased pressure on your tummy – for example, because you are pregnant or obese
  • damage to the bladder or nearby area during surgery – such as the removal of the womb (hysterectomy), or removal of the prostate gland
  • neurological conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord, such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis
  • certain connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • certain medicines

Male Incontinence
Men also experience incontinence and it’s no surprise that they are even worse than women for talking about it or seeking help. Naturally there are some different causes listed for males (please see below), but would it be on the radar of the GP to test for B12 deficiency even if the subject of incontinence arose at an appointment?

  • chronic cough
  • constipation
  • obesity
  • bladder or urinary tract infections
  • an obstruction in the urinary tract
  • weak pelvic floor or bladder muscles
  • loss of sphincter strength
  • nerve damage
  • enlarged prostate
  • prostate cancer
  • neurological disorders, which can interfere with bladder control signals

Other lifestyle factors that may lead to UI include:

  • smoking
  • drinking
  • not being physically active

The new C word

I know we’re all up to our necks in Coronavirus blogs but I hope some of the following helps.

UK GP’s
My Practice sent a message late last week saying nobody can have a face-to-face appointment with a doctor. B12 injections are still being given by nurses – as long as the patient doesn’t have a cold or any other flu like symptoms.

But what if they do? And what if you are being shoved to the back of the queue and being told your injection is non essential?

Each practice is going to have a different take on this so it will be down to individuals to try and find a solution from your Practice. It may be that they have something in place on their websites so check this too.

Perhaps there is someone close to you who would be able to give you an injection if you can get your ampoules on prescription?

Perhaps you could ask if a loved one who is well, could be taught to give you your injection whilst we’re in this chaos.

Or ask if there could be provision at your Walk in Centre?

Unfortunately your Pharmacist can’t give you your injection unless there is a Service Level Agreement (SLA) or a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in place.

Remember that B12 is listed by the World Health Organisation as an essential medicine (see page 19) and B12 injections are necessary, just as insulin is necessary for a diabetic.

There will be a way you can get your injection and your Practice owes a duty of care to make sure it happens. We just need to try and stay calm and be a bit more patient during the crisis.

The following statutory NHS Bodies are responsible for commissioning health care services so if you are struggling please contact yours;

Find your CCG here if you are in England

Your Local Health board in Wales

NHS Scotland Health Boards

Local Commissioning Groups Northern Ireland

The news
I haven’t chosen to watch the news or read a newspaper for years years because for me it’s depressing and damaging. Currently it’s wall to wall panic with coronavirus.

I was annoyed with myself for becoming glued to the end of a TV report on Madrid and the Spanish State of Emergency on Sunday night where a lone person in a Square was told to go home and stay inside by the police.

This part of the whole crisis made me worry, it interrupted my sleep. I can’t imagine being separated form other humans in this way. I’m already walking around holding my arms by my sides like an Irish dancer, resisting my natural urge to touch people. We are social animals and although some personality types thrive on periods of solitude, mine really doesn’t.


Freedom
The thought of not being able to walk freely, being isolated and being separated from their communities and families may be a bigger terror for people than than catching the virus itself.

So, I’ve had a word with myself, I will not watch anymore news and I’ll deal with any restrictions as and when they might occur.
I will not begin to panic buy.
I’ll do what I advise others to do and that is to set aside only ten minutes out of any 24 hours to worry and leave it at that.
Worrying does absolutely nothing to help anyone, but it does cause us great stress, so conserve your energy and focus on other things that you can effect.

Wildly unthinking behaviour
The meaning of panic -as if you didn’t already know!! Is: sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behaviour.
This wildly unthinking behaviour clearly helps no one – but is naturally contagious.
I went to a supermarket on Sunday and asked a staff member how she was feeling, she looked exasperated, saying “It’s worse than Christmas“.
These staff are on the front line too, some feel physically knackered by their increased workload, some are also panicked but are carrying on. They’re dealing with fraught customers and the extremes of panic buying, refilling shelves as quickly as they can. They deserve thanks, kindness and calmness at this time.

If Anxiety is part of your B12 deficiency picture then watching the news is going to make you worry about the world at large and your own health. So if you can STOP it or at least limit it, what you do need to know will filter through.
Why not download apps such as Headspace or Calm these may help if you are struggling with rising levels of panic?

Christmas 
If this feels like Christmas to staff in shops and supermarkets then perhaps the best way we can get through this is to treat it like a Christmas break. If there’s nothing we can do why not use this period as an exercise in self-care, get jobs done that you have been meaning to do for an age.
Maybe…..
Have Epsom salt baths
Sort out your wardrobe and cupboards, learn to fold like Marie Kondo.
Bake – if you have any flour
Declutter, so that when this calms down you feel renewed & ready to start living normally again
Start to learn a language or to crochet.
Make soup, there’s plenty of fresh food
Watch your old DVD’s and Netflix Watchlist.
Sort out your photographs
Delete unwanted emails
Finish your unfinished projects
Read that pile of magazines you’ve gathered up over the years
Get that jigsaw out
Weed the garden
Skype your loved ones, write letters, get in touch with long lost friends.

Rather than watching news try and make a point of only watching uplifting things. Watch comedies, funny is better for your heart and soul.

We’re not being made to stay inside, not yet at least, so get outside info the fresh air.
Do things when you feel like it and rest when you don’t.

Take some vitamin C and some zinc. Don’t do like I have in the past and take zinc on an empty stomach, it may make you vomit.

Pull together
If you have been caught up in the hysteria of panic buying but now you can’t move around your home with out banging into your purchases, it’s time to find your local food bank. These are not doing well at all. Remember not everyone could panic buy even if they wanted to.

This is a time to pull together (at a safe distance) rather than to separate, it’s a time to connect with neighbours, if you don’t know their telephone number already, get it and give them yours. You may need each other. Check on people living alone, drop a note through the door to see if they need anything if you feel you can.
Shop local, support the independents, they may still have loo rolls!
Keep safe, wash hands, hello with elbows and limit the news.
Best wishes
Tracey