Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Desiccated Thyroid Hormone Mess

I know I have been late to comment on the desiccated thyroid availability, but, I have been closely following the situation and trying to sort through the mess. Here is how I see it.
Natural, desiccated thyroid hormone (NDT) comes in different brands such as Armour thyroid, Naturethroid, and Westhroid.

The problem began nearly a year ago, when the supplier of raw thyroid changed their manufacturing process. This caused both major manufacturers of desiccated thyroid, Forest (Armour thyroid) and RLC Labs (Naturethroid and Westhroid) to have problems with their manufacturing process. This started the first wave of desiccated thyroid shortages. After this problem was rectified, Forest decided to alter the formula for Armour thyroid. This alteration caused a lot of patient problems as the drug was not having the same beneficial effect it was previously having. I had many patients report a sudden decrease in effectiveness with the ‘new’ form of Armour thyroid.

The next problem began when Forest Pharmaceutical, the maker of Armour thyroid, recalled a large portion of their thyroid doses due to stability concerns and back-ordered all of their strengths. Forest currently is the largest manufacturer of NDT. This created an immediate nationwide shortage of NDT.

When I asked if they can supply enough thyroid to make up for the shortage of NDT, RLC responded that they were not prepared to meet all of the current demands for NDT product, however, they are diligently working to fill it.

As for Forest pharmaceutical, I am not sure what to say. Why a company that manufactures a product for over 80 years and suddenly changes the formulation is beyond me. It is unclear when or if Forest will begin producing Armour thyroid.

So, where does that leave doctors prescribing and patients using desiccated thyroid? I say, don’t panic yet. First of all, panic serves no purpose. Secondly, RLC Labs is still producing NDT and will continue to produce NDT. I do not believe that NDT will be totally unavailable in the future.

Right now, I suggest those patients who currently use Armour thyroid to try RLC labs’ Naturethroid or Westhroid. I have successfully used these products for years. In fact, with the recent formulation change of Armour, I have been successfully changing many of my patients to Naturethroid. I have personally found Naturethroid a very good product for my own thyroid condition. If Naturethroid or Westhroid are not available, a compounding pharmacist can temporarily fill your desiccated thyroid hormone needs.

Finally, ensure that you have adequate iodine intake. I have found much fewer problems switching between thyroid medications when iodine levels are maintained at optimal levels.

One final note. I have been in close contact with RLC Labs for a number of years. I believe this company to be fully supportive of supplying a sound medication to help thyroid patients. It is my personal opinion that RLC labs will stand with all of us, doctors and patients alike, in a time of crisis. This is the type of company I am proud to endorse.


  • At September 7, 2009 at 6:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Thanks for posting this. It makes me feel a little better. I have a good supply of DT but can't help but worry what the future holds just as I am beginning to see hope for getting my health back.

  • At September 7, 2009 at 6:54 PM , Blogger Dr. David Brownstein said...

    Again, I would say, "Don't panic." There is no indication about pulling NDT from the market. If Armour is unavailable, there are alternatives (see article above).

  • At October 17, 2009 at 9:50 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I flew from Seattle area to MI to see Dr. Brownstein in Sept. 09, He switched me from Armour to Nature-Thyroid. He also added iodine along with some other great supplements. After a few weeks I'm doing 70% better most days of the week!

  • At October 26, 2009 at 4:13 AM , Blogger Dr. David Brownstein said...

    I did not put this comment here to praise myself (though it is nice to hear positive comments!). I put it here to tell those who are not feeling well to not give up. There are always alternatives available. Naturethroid may be good for some, Armour for others,as well as Synthroid for some. Sometimes it is trial and error.


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