Experts on 60 Minutes vitamin C ‘miracle cure’ story

The Science Media Centre sought comment from experts on the 60 Minutes piece Living Proof, which examined the story of Alan Smith, who was treated with intravenous doses of vitamin C while close to death suffering with the H1N1 virus and made a full recovery.

Professor John Fraser, Head of School of Medical Sciences, University of Auckland told the SMC:

“It is disappointing that the journalist did not attempt to seek expert advice on the reasons why the consultants were unwilling to administer high dose vitamin C. There is certainly no evidence from the medical literature that this treatment works particularly in severe cases of pneumonia.

“The consultants were quite right to resist the use of an unproven treatment, and to their credit they did acquiesce to accommodate the family’s wishes because they felt it would do no harm. In this remarkable case the patient did survive but there is no evidence that this was due to the vitamin C. This is a wonderful story of personal survival and it is sad that it has been used to discredit those professionals who were just trying to provide their best for a very sick patient. If the vitamin C had killed him, then the story would have been different. That is the risk of using an unproven treatment.”

Further comments will be posted to the SMC website.