Acclaimed County Durham doctor banned from prescribing vitamins

Dr Joseph Chandy has been barred from offering vitamin B12 to treat fatigue despite winning an award for his research in the area

Dr Joseph Chandy
Dr Joseph Chandy

An internationally-acclaimed doctor has been banned from prescribing vitamins - despite winning awards for his work.

In 2012 Dr Joseph Chandy, a GP in Horden, County Durham for more than 30 years, was awarded the Glory of India award for research using vitamin B12 to treat fatigue syndrome.

But on June 13 this year he was not only ordered to stop prescribing the treatment but also told he must not treat the condition by the Medical Practitioners and Tribunal Service’s interim orders panel.

The National Institute for Clinical and Health Care Excellence (NICE) does not recommend vitamin B12 to treat fatigue. A spokesperson for NICE said there is not enough evidence to support a recommendation to prescribe the treatment, but admitted some sufferers have reported health benefits from it.

Dr Chandy told the Journal he believes his methods will become accepted by health chiefs in time.

“This is what happens when you challenge the establishment,” he said. “I think they know that I am right.”

Along with the Glory of India Award, Dr Chandy met Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street to discuss his work linking fatigue syndromes and vitamin B12 deficiency.

Dr Chandy, now 73, said a number of his patients have written to the General Medical Council (GMC) in protest at the move and have also contacted individual hospitals.

The interim ruling bans him from prescribing or administering vitamin B12, or steroids, when treating patients with fatigue.

The order also bans him from carrying out any private work outside the NHS or from practicing outside his firm, the Shinwell Medical Group, in Horden.

The GMC said it was unable to comment on the hearing as no formal finding against Dr Chandy has been made. However, the ban could be lifted following a third hearing which is expected to take place later this year.

Dr Chandy added: “I am 74 in January, I don’t need this but I am still working for the benefit of others. I am taking it on the chin and behind the scenes I am writing up the evidence I have.

“It is clear cut. I think that they know I am right but I am challenging the old thinking, the antiquated thinking.”

Prof Mark Baker, Director for the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: “We are unable to comment on this individual but when the NICE guidance on chronic fatigue syndrome was developed in 2007, there was not enough clinical evidence to suggest that prescribing supplements such as vitamin B12 should be recommended.

“However, NICE did acknowledge that some people have reported finding supplements helpful as part of a self-management strategy for their symptoms.

“If a person uses supplements and believes they are helpful to their condition and they don’t interfere with the clinical management of their condition, then NICE does not object to their use.”

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