Meet the Doctor Behind the $40 Sepsis Treatment Critics Call 'Hocus-Pocus'

Tinker Ready, March 30, 2017

A critical care physician reports that treating sepsis patients with Vitamin C and steroids results in "very short" lengths of stay and lower readmission rates. Critics say a randomized controlled trial is needed.

Paul Marik, MD
Paul Marik, MD

Sepsis can be unpredictable, fast moving, and fatal. The condition has been identified as the number one reason for readmissions and the most costly.

So, when a paper in Chest described patients who recovered with an infusion of steroids and intravenous vitamin C, it got a lot of attention, not all of it good.

The study's lead author, Paul Marik, MD, a critical care physician at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA, calls the study preliminary and agrees that more data is needed.

But he thinks the sepsis regimen is safe enough to start using now. HealthLeaders talked to Marik this week. The transcript below has been lightly edited.

HealthLeaders: What was the response to the Chest paper?

I did get some pushback from people who said, 'you can't do this.' But actually, we can. Steroids and thiamine are highly available.

There is an enormous amount of literature on critically ill patients who have almost undetectable vitamin C levels. That is quite appropriate to replace. If you look at the package insert, it says IV vitamin C is indicated for patients with acute deficiency of vitamin C.

HealthLeaders: Are there side effects?

Marik: We were quite comfortable in doing this. In the dose we used, there were no side effects. You always have to be careful that there is no potential for harm. In the dose we use, it is completely and utterly safe.

HealthLeaders: What should hospital administrators know?

Marik: Patients will come to our ICU in septic shock. They will leave three days later with no organ failure. From the hospital's perspective, this is very big.

Tinker Ready

Tinker Ready is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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