As the shortage of natural desiccated thyroid drugs -- like Armour and Nature-Throid -- worsens, patients are finding it more difficult to get prescriptions filled. But if you are on a natural desiccated thyroid drug, and it's time to get your prescription refilled, here are some pointers to help you get the medication you need.
1. First, accept Westhroid if it's offered. There are some pockets of the natural thyroid drug Westhroid available at some pharmacies around the country. But some pharmacists have reported to me that patients have been turning down the Westhroid, saying "I've heard it's only a medicine for animals," or "It has cornstarch in it," or, "It's not the same as Nature-Throid."
Let's get this cleared up right away. Westhroid is not a drug designed for animals and pets. It's been in use as a natural desiccated thyroid drug for people for decades.
In the past, when Western was the manufacturer of Nature-Throid and Westhroid, RLC took over production of Nature-Throid and Westhroid, Nature-Throid was the hypoallergenic medication, and Westhroid did in fact have cornstarch. RLC switched the formulation, and Westhroid has an identical formulation to Nature-Throid. (Given that both products were now identical, RLC considered eliminating Westhroid, but some patients had been taking their Westhroid for years, and were so familiar with the name, that they resisted a name change, and RLC kept supplying their hypoallergenic natural desiccated thyroid drugs under both names: Nature-Throid and Westhroid.)
All this is to say: If a pharmacy has Westhroid, there is no reason to turn it down, as it is identical to Nature-Throid.
2. Make sure your prescription is written properly. The way it works with desiccated thyroid, if you have a prescription for Armour Thyroid, your pharmacist cannot fill it with Nature-Throid or Westhroid. If you have a prescription for Nature-Throid, your pharmacist cannot fill it with Westhroid, or Armour Thyroid. Even though Nature-Throid and Westhroid are identical drugs, they require specific prescriptions.
Right now, the ideal prescription for natural desiccated thyroid should be written as broadly as possible, and indicate "Natural desiccated thyroid" and the amount of grains (not mg) per day. If the prescription is written that way, a pharmacist could fill your prescription with any available desiccated thyroid drug he/she has in stock.
Your doctor could also write the prescription for "Natural desiccated thyroid " (Armour, Nature-Throid, Westhroid all acceptable), and specify the dosage in grains. Again, it's important that the prescription specify grains -- and not mg -- because while Armour compares grain to grain with Nature-Throid in terms of active ingredients, their weights in mg. are slightly different. So if your doctor specifies 60 mg instead of 1 grain, your pharmacist will only be able to give you Armour -- and not Nature-Throid or Westhroid, whose 1 grain tablets are 65 mg.
Here's a quick recap:
3. Take what you can get. Right now, there is such a shortage of natural desiccated thyroid pills -- as well as a shortage of the raw ingredient Thyroid USP used to make compounded desiccated thyroid -- that the old saying, "beggars can't be choosers" applies. If you find a pharmacy that has natural desiccated thyroid, make sure you have a prescription that can match up to what that pharmacy has in stock, and get the medication you need to get through the next several months of shortage.
4. Try smaller independent pharmacies, compounding pharmacies, and pharmacies that work with hormone replacement and bioidentical hormone drugs. They may be more likely to have some desiccated thyroid drugs still in stock.
5. Stay in touch with other thyroid patients. Many thyroid patients have been at the Save Natural Thyroid Facebook fan page, and my Facebook page, sharing contact information for pharmacies where they've found supplies of natural desiccated thyroid available, and mobilizing efforts to protect the availability of natural thyroid drugs. I invite you to "Friend" me there or join the Save Natural Thyroid page if you want to take part in those discussions.
6. Stay up on the latest developments. You'll want to bookmark my page "The Armour Thyroid and Nature-Throid Shortage" and return to it regularly to find out the latest news.