As of June, Armour's spokespeople had indicated that several dosage sizes of Armour Thyroid were undergoing "extensive enhancement process for quality control" and were not currently in production. The dosages included:
- 120 mg / 2 grains
- 180 mg / 3 grains
- 240 mg / 4 grains
- 300 mg / 5 grains
Unfortunately, according to the latest status update on Armour -- which you can hear by calling their toll-free Armour information line at 1-866-927-3260 -- those out of stock dosages that are currently being "enhanced" are not going to be available in October. Instead, the hotline indicates that these dosages "should be available late 2008." This is not good news for thyroid patients.
According to Forest, the dosage sizes still being produced include the following:
- 15 mg (1/4 grain)
- 30 mg (1/2 grain)
- 60 mg (1 grain)
- 90 mg (1 ½ grains)
That means that the ONLY dosage size of Armour currently available from Forest is the 15 mg size. Some of the other dosages may be available with distributors and pharmacies, but it's likely that those outlets will soon run out.
The hotline claims that the other dosage sizes will be available the week of September 22, 2008.
Given these problems, I am still receiving calls and emails from patients around the country who are unable to get ANY Armour Thyroid from their pharmacies. These include patients trying to get prescriptions filled at local pharmacies, as well as chains like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens.
Clearly, Armour has not been forthcoming with thyroid patients, and has offered no information as to the reformulation, only ever-shifting timeframes, and promises they aren't keeping. Frankly, the lack of concern for their patient population is obvious in their cavalier attitude toward their customers.
That said, if you are one of the many patients who is struggling to deal with the shortage of Armour, I have some solutions for you.
What Can You Do? How Can You Get Your Thyroid Medication?
First, be careful. Your pharmacy or doctor may suggest switching to an easily-obtained synthetic drug, like Synthroid or Levoxyl, or the generic, levothyroxine. They may claim "It's the same thing." It's definitely not. Synthetic thyroid hormone replacement drugs like Synthroid operate very differently; they are not the same as natural thyroid medication. People who do well on Armour Thyroid may not do well on synthetic substitutes. So my suggestion is, if you are doing well on natural thyroid, work with your practitioner to stay on natural thyroid, even if it means switching to another brand name natural thyroid drug.
For those of you who rely on natural thyroid, there are ways to get prescription natural thyroid medication.
Armour Thyroid Availability
A reputable compounding pharmacy, Knowles Apothecary, has a decent supply of Armour Thyroid available. The pharmacy is located in Kensington, Maryland. (Full disclosure: It's the pharmacy that fills my prescriptions, and I love them. They're very knowledgeable and thorough!) They fill prescription drug orders by mail, but your doctor's office will need to fax or call in a valid prescription. Make sure it's written for nothing larger than Armour 60 mg -- so if you take 3 grains or 180 mg a day, the prescription should be for a total of three 60-mg per day tablets. Ask your doctor to write you a decent supply -- at least three months or more -- to carry you through the shortage period.
Knowles ApothecaryKnowles is likely to face shortages as supplies dwindle, you have the doctor include on the prescription that if the Armour is unavailable, substitution with the Western Research products Nature-Throid and Westhroid is acceptable. That way, the pharmacy will fill your prescription with the other brand name desiccated thyroid, manufactured by Western Labs.
10400 Connecticut Ave, Suite 100
Kensington, MD 20895
Nature-Throid and Westhroid
Western Research Labs manufacturers Nature-Throid and Westhroid. These are both prescription natural desiccated thyroid drugs, like Armour Thyroid. The primary difference is that Nature-Throid is hypoallergenic, for those who might be sensitive to some of the filler and binders. It comes in the same dosage sizes as Armour Thyroid.
To get Nature-Throid and Westhroid, you can:
- See if your pharmacy considers Nature-Throid/Westhroid equivalent to Armour, and fill the prescription with Nature-Throid/Westhroid. If so, your pharmacy may be able to order it for you through their distributors.
- If your pharmacy can't get it through their distributor, ask them if they will order it directly from Western Research, by calling toll-free 1-877-797-7997
- If your pharmacy doesn't consider Nature-Throid/Westhroid equivalent to Armour, ask your doctor's office to call or fax your pharmacy a new prescription for Nature-Throid/Westhroid.
- If your pharmacy can't get Nature-Throid or Westhroid and won't order it directly, then have your prescription sent to you by mail. Have your doctor call or fax your prescription for Nature-Throid or Westhroid prescription to:
10400 Connecticut Ave, Suite 100
Kensington, MD 20895
For Doctors Who Prescribe Armour
If you are a doctor who prescribes Armour, be aware that the shortages of Armour are likely to get worse until the end of 2008, at best. You may want to consider direct-ordering Nature-Throid or Westhroid so that you have it in stock for your thyroid patients who take natural thyroid. Call Western Research Labs toll-free 1-877-797-7997 for more information. (Patients, if you have a doctor who does a lot of work with Armour Thyroid, you might encourage him or her to also consider stocking Nature-Throid or Westhroid for their patients.)
Are you fed up with trying to get Armour Thyroid?
Share your thoughts in the forum now!