Recently on Twitter, someone saw a Tweet about that letter and asked: "Is there a similar letter for the workplace?" That valid question prompted me to create a new letter that's meant to be be shared with the colleagues of thyroid patients.
This letter is for those in the workplace who have a coworker, employee, or boss with thyroid disease, to help them understand some of the signs and symptoms of thyroid problems. I've also included some suggestions for workplace decisionmakers on benefits or workplace perks that can help a thyroid patient be a healthier, happier, and more productive employee. Read "An Open Letter to the Colleagues of Thyroid Patients" now.
Actavis is the third-largest generic pharmaceutical company in the United States, and one of the top drugmakers in global markets. According to news reports, "The Forest buyout, expected to close by the middle of the year, ranks as one of the top five pharma deals of the past decade."
Actavis makes 60+ generic drugs, and some brand name drugs in the US.
What will it mean for Armour Thyroid? It's anyone's guess at this point, but in my opinion, few companies could do a worse job at quality control, manufacturing consistency, ethics, or communications than Forest -- which has been scandal-ridden and in the news for manufacturing problems, ethics issues, and other problems for years. So I'm hoping that this is a positive development for the thyroid community.
At the same time, we have to ask: Will Actavis discontinue Armour? Will they raise the price? There's no way to find out at this point, and the sale will not be finalized until mid-2014, so thyroid patients will need to stay tuned for more news and developments.
Almost all of the increased thyroid cancers detected were papillary thyroid cancer, and the greatest increase in detection was seen in women -- who have seen a four times greater increase in thyroid cancer versus men. Of good news to patients is that the mortality rate from thyroid cancer has been stable -- with approximately 0.5 deaths per 100,000 patients between 1975 and 2009.
60,000 cases of thyroid cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society.
Implications for Patients
The question is, what do doctors and patients do with this information, and with the earlier detection of small, slow-growing, and potentially non-lethal thyroid cancers?
The concern is that while thyroid cancer is often quite treatable, it can often recur, and it is sometimes difficult to determine which thyroid tumors will become aggressive. So researchers will be studying this in the near future.
The study authors advice that doctors discuss openly with patients the uncertainty about small thyroid cancers, and explain that many of them will never grow or cause harm, but that it's not entirely possible to know which ones are less of a concern. This way, patients and doctors may decide in some situations to closely monitor the cancer, rather than treating it more aggressively, according to the study authors.
More InformationAbstract online.
Back in March of 2013, Levoxyl went off the market to address manufacturing concerns.
I have been hearing, however, that some patients have already been able to get their prescriptions filled, and that Levoxyl is making its way through the distribution pipelines.
There's a signup at the Levoxyl webpage to get notified about the return of Levoxyl, as well as the latest updates on the availability date.
Pfizer also says that if pharmacies do not have a supply of Levoxyl, they should contact Pfizer customer service at 1-800-533-4535, and Pfizer will work with pharmacists and their designated wholesalers to drop-ship the Levoxyl. (You may want to let your pharmacist know this if you want to get a Levoxyl prescription filled.)
Free Trial of Levoxyl
Pfizer is also offering a 30-day free trial of Levoxyl, available only to new patients who are not already on Levoxyl. You can download your voucher at their site.
(By my logic, since the drug has been off the market for a year, and no one is on it or has been on it for almost a year, anyone who wants it should be eligible for this voucher!)
Note: the free trial voucher expires expires 12/31/14.
A while back, a thyroid patient asked an important question at my Facebook Thyroid Support page: How can I explain to my family what I am going through?" It's difficult to fully explain what's going on with a chronic condition like thyroid disease that is, in many ways, "invisible" to everyone but the sufferer. But perhaps this "Open Letter to Family and Friends of Thyroid Patients" can be a conversation-starter -- a Valentine of sorts -- to those we love -- and who love us -- to understand and empathize a bit more about what it is like to have thyroid disease.
Getting in Touch With Your Heart
If you're stressed out, exhausted, and fed up with having a thyroid problem, I highly recommend the "Thyroid Meditation." It helps you integrate mind, body, heart, and spirit in ways that go beyond traditional treatment approaches. Learn more about it now in this Q&A with the meditation's creator, Demo DiMartile.
Heart Sense for Thyroid Patients
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women today, yet women's heart problems are frequently overlooked. In his book Heart Sense for Women, cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, M.D., talks about heart disease and women, including early warning symptoms, cholesterol, homocysteine, lipoprotein , and LDL oxidation, plus a natural program for reducing blood pressure and reducing reliance on medication. I had an opportunity to do a Q&A with Dr. Sinatra re: what he feels women with thyroid disease should know about heart health.
More on Thyroid and Heart Health
- Low Thyroid Increases Heart Risk
- Should Doctors Treat Subclinical Hypothyroidism to Help Prevent Heart Disease?
- Thyroid Disease and the Heart
- TSH Levels Linked to Risk of Fatal Heart Disease
- Mitral Valve Prolapse and Thyroid Disease
- Thyroid Dysfunction Linked to Heart Failure
- Congenital Heart Disease/Thyroid Disease Connection
Her story: She was having shoulder pain and sleep problems, so her doctor ordered an MRI, and they found a cancerous mass in her thyroid. It was a stage 1 thyroid cancer. She had surgery -- note, you can see a faint scar in her photo -- and thankfully, now she's cancer free.
She is, however, making it a mission to help raise awareness of thyroid cancer.
When they first gave it to me, I was falling asleep at stoplights. It was awful. And then, my hair started to fall out -- big clumps of my hair.According to Everhart, "You have to figure out what your cocktail is." She is now taking Armour Thyroid, and said "I'm hoping that this is going to be a good level that I'm on. And I feel great."
(One perplexing statement: Everhart seems to think that having thyroid cancer somehow makes it less likely for her to get other cancers. Actually, the opposite is true.)
You can see the video clip where Angie Everhart talks to Katie Couric about her thyroid cancer here.
In the article, Rosenberg talks about how many pharmaceutical companies are out there engaging in fairly cynical marketing efforts to promote drugs direct to consumers -- and often use what are known as "unbranded" advertising to manufacture and promote vague or newly created illnesses, and promote drugs to unsuspecting consumers who don't realize drug companies are paying celebrities to promote drugs on the talk show circuit and on websites.
But despite good intentions, Rosenberg then goes on to get it really wrong about thyroid disease. Read more about it now.
While the majority of my Facebook readers found the information helpful, some were troubled by what they saw as contradictions in advice -- on the one hand, encouraging patients to be empowered and to communicate openly with doctors, but on the other hand, suggesting that patients think strategically about how to best communicate with those doctors.
The above infographic is an overview of the key steps thyroid patients can follow in a successful effort to lose weight. For more in-depth information, read Help! I'm a Thyroid Patient Who Can't Lose Weight!
Graphic: Mary Shomon / Photo: istockphoto