Oral cobalamin for pernicious anemia: back from the verge of extinction

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Sep;46(9):1125-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1998.tb06651.x.


Background: High dose oral cobalamin therapy was shown to be effective for pernicious anemia and other cobalamin deficiency states 30 years ago, and physicians and patients state that they would find oral therapy useful, but a survey conducted in 1989 found that physicians were generally unaware of it.

Objective: To assess physician awareness and use of oral cobalamin since 1989.

Design, setting, and participants: Minneapolis area internists not listed as having subspecialties or academic business addresses were surveyed in 1989 and in 1996.

Measurements and results: There were 245 responses to the 1989 survey and 223 responses to the 1996 survey for response rates of 68% and 69%, respectively. The percentage of internists who ever used oral cobalamin to treat pernicious anemia increased from 0 in 1989 to 19% in 1996 (P < .001). The percentage who were aware of an effective oral cobalamin preparation for treating cobalamin deficiency states also increased significantly from 4 to 29% (P < .001). The percentage of internists who agreed with the incorrect view that sufficient quantities of cobalamin cannot be absorbed when given orally declined from 91% in 1989 to 71% in 1996 (P < .001).

Conclusion: Minneapolis internists' awareness and use of oral cobalamin treatment for pernicious anemia increased substantially between 1989 and 1996, but the majority of internists remained unaware of this treatment option.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Anemia, Pernicious / drug therapy*
  • Anemia, Pernicious / etiology
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Internal Medicine / trends
  • Minnesota
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin B 12 / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamin B 12