— Both groups face scrutiny over long COVID recommendations
IncellDx, a company that’s marketing a diagnostic and treatment plan for long COVID, says it’s not at all associated with the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) after being listed on the organization’s website.
Both IncellDx and the FLCCC have received criticism for promoting long COVID protocols absent substantial evidence for any treatments. MedPage Today previously reported that doctors treating patients at hospital-based centers for post-COVID care have raised concerns about potential dangers of the FLCCC’s “I-RECOVER” protocol, which, at the time, referenced being developed in collaboration with physicians associated with IncellDx and the company itself.
However, IncellDx subsequently sent a cease-and-desist letter to the FLCCC, demanding the group remove any reference to IncellDx and physicians associated with the company from the FLCCC site.
“We have no partnership and no association with any other group,” Bruce Patterson, MD, founder and CEO of IncellDx, told MedPage Today. “That is the bottom line.”
“We started this for long COVID, and we’ve been completely on our own, and we’re going to keep it that way,” Patterson added. “And that’s why we were so aggressive in getting our name removed from the FLCCC website.”
Patterson, the former head of virology at Stanford University, emphatically distanced himself and his diagnostic company, which was founded more than a decade ago, from the FLCCC, a group known for touting ivermectin for COVID.
He told MedPage Today that he and a fellow physician associated with IncellDx initially had spoken with the doctors at the helm of the FLCCC in the spring of 2020.
This past December, Patterson said there was a second call between the parties, which included a request to be removed from the FLCCC’s website once the team at IncellDx noticed its mention. Last week, IncellDx realized that some of the references to the company hadn’t been taken down from the site, and sent the cease-and-desist letter to the FLCCC.
“We have nothing to do with them,” Patterson said. “We are not ivermectin proponents.”
Patterson holds that IncellDx’s approach to long COVID is rooted in science, even as skeptics challenge that narrative. The company maintains that long COVID symptoms are vascular inflammation caused by the persistence of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in white blood cells, and that CCR5 antagonists (like the HIV medication maraviroc; Selzentry) and statins have resulted in improvements for many patients.
However, there has been criticism of that hypothesis, including in an investigation by Mother Jones. The report alleges that desperate patients may shell out of thousands of dollars for the IncellDx testing and treatment without finding relief.
In response to allegations included in the Mother Jones report, Patterson said that IncellDx is working to help people suffering from long COVID, that other FDA-approved medications are used off-label (such as aspirin for heart attacks), and that IncellDx is working to start a large-scale clinical trial for long haulers.
Kelly Bumann, executive director of the FLCCC, told MedPage Today that the group took no issue with making modifications to remove mention of IncellDx from its website.
The doctors had a conversation at the end of the December, and there was an update to the FLCCC website that had been overlooked, but that was changed within 24 hours, Bumann said.
“We thought it was kind of odd that there was a cease and desist because a phone call would have sufficed,” Bumann said.