Why Self Medicate?

I came across this webpage a few weeks ago:
Regulatory Actions Related to the Use of Desiccated (Armour) Thyroid

I was a bit surprised by what I read. Apparently, doctors who prescribe natural desiccated thyroid when blood tests are normal are being hauled before State Medical Boards to explain their actions. These cases are doubtlessly written up in the medical periodicals for all the other doctors to read. It is no wonder why doctors are hesitant to prescribe NDT when blood tests are normal.

The article goes on to further state: “Because synthetic hormones are more reliable, the prescription of desiccated thyroid should be considered a sign of poor judgment.”

Well first of all, Levothyroxine has had it’s share of stability problems and re-calls. Just since 1991, there have been no less than 10 recalls of levothyroxine sodium tablets involving 150 lots and more than 100 million tablets. On August 14, 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration filed notice in the Federal Register that drugs containing levothyroxine sodium (such as Synthroid and other brand name and generic thyroid hormone preparations) are “new drugs.” This means that these drugs will for the first time be required to submit new drug applications that formally document the drug’s safety, effectiveness, and consistent potency.

This notice is in response to new information found by the government that shows significant stability and potency problems with orally administered levothyroxine sodium products. Also, these products do not remain potent through the expiration date, and tablets of the same dosage strength from the same manufacturer have been shown to vary from lot to lot in the amount of active ingredient present. The government found that this lack of stability and consistent potency has the potential to cause serious health consequences to the public.

And course, let’s not ignore the possible monetary motives. NDT is not patentable and could replace a whole slew of expensive and patented drugs for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, etc. NDT is easy to make and cheap. The makers of these patented drugs would like nothing more than to see NDT cease to exist.

Mary Shomon’s site has several insightful articles about the influence of pharmaceutical companies on the willingness of doctors to prescribe certain medications. Please see:

Who’s Making Money From Synthroid? – You will be surprised.

Is Your Endocrinologist “Under the Influence?” – This is a must read.

For a doctor’s perspective on this, at the Endocrine Today blog, endocrinologist and osteopath Thomas Repas, DO, FACP, FACE, CDE, has done a three-part article on “Desiccated thyroid in the management of hypothyroidism,” :

Desiccated thyroid in the management of hypothyroidism — Part I

Desiccated thyroid in the management of hypothyroidism — Part 2

Desiccated thyroid in the management of hypothyroidism — Part 3

Unfortunately for Dr. Thomas, most of the objections raised are unsubstantiated nonsense. Please see the eloquent and succinct Dr. Lowe’s blistering rebuttal of similar rhetoric :

Stability, Effectiveness, and Safety of Desiccated Thyroid vs Levothyroxine: A Rebuttal to the British Thyroid Association

Now you know why you should never expect your doctor to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid.

Comments on the need to self medicate are welcome.


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One Comment

  1. My suspicion most doctors are not that interested in digging down to help patients. To feel good again is something I’m working on. But my doctor wont do the tests I need to see where my numbers are at in terms of T3 T4 free t’s and reverse. I am on Armour and it is far better than synthroid which the doctor put me on and forgot about me until I realized my hot flashes were not mean pause but from thyroid. Was put o Armour which I asked for and needing an increase. She doesn’t want me to go hypo but won’t do the additional testing. Why they think tsh is the answer of all questions I will never know unless they really feel they are God and can control. So I a going out on my own looking for thyroid s source to purchase. Thank you for these articles.

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