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From Mary Shomon Your Thyroid Guide

Press Release: Synthroid Controversy: Physician Discourages Panic Over Possible Withdrawal Of Thyroid Drug From U.S. Market

June 7, 2001

SOURCE: Sanford Siegal, D.O., M.D.

MIAMI, June 7 -- A physician who has treated thousands of thyroid patients over the last 40 years says that he is not concerned about the FDA's possible removal of Abbott's drug, Synthroid, from the U.S. market.

The Wall Street Journal, along with a host of other media, have reported that the Food and Drug Administration has told the makers of Synthroid that there is a question of the safety and effectiveness of their product. Though it was the third most prescribed medication in the U.S. in 2000, it is reported that the drug could actually be removed from the market in the near future. The WSJ reported that although Synthroid has been marketed for forty years, it has never received formal FDA approval.

Sanford Siegal, D.O., M.D., a practicing physician who treats thousands of patients with thyroid disorders, says that he is not surprised by the FDA's action. According to Dr. Siegal, ``I've been expecting this. For years, I have been preaching that synthetic thyroid hormone is unreliable as a method of treating hypothyroidism. In my own practice, I have been prescribing natural thyroid for years. When I switch patients from synthetic thyroid to natural thyroid, often a remarkable change comes over them. The symptoms that synthetic thyroid purports to but fails to alleviate are suddenly gone when the patient takes the natural hormone.''

Dr. Siegal reports, ``In my practice we have had many inquiries from our own patients as well as from others who are concerned that they may not be able to obtain their medication. We have calmed their fears by reiterating that natural thyroid, often called Armour Thyroid, is actually a preferable alternative. This type of thyroid medication is readily available and there are several generic formulations as well.''

In Chapter Seven of his current book, ``Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat?'' (Warner Books, 2001), Dr. Siegal recites the whole history of the debate regarding the use of synthetic vs. natural thyroid. It is his hope that more physicians will come to realize that their preference for the synthetic product is undeserved and that if it becomes unavailable, it would not affect their patients adversely.

Synthetic thyroid has become the unwarranted favorite of the medical community since its introduction about 40 years ago. The natural product has been continuously available during that same period, but younger physicians particularly have been unfamiliar with it. Dr. Siegal asserts, ``I have had physicians, who themselves were under treatment by me, express surprise when I prescribed natural thyroid for them. They did not even know of its existence. Yet, there are thousands of patients who swear that they do far better on the natural hormone than the synthetic.

``There is no need for anyone to panic. If Synthroid becomes unavailable, the patient can easily be switched to natural thyroid, and in my opinion, they will respond even better.''

Sanford Siegal, D.O., M.D., has practiced in South Florida for over forty years and is medical director of a large private medical practice that currently has thousands of patients under treatment. He concentrates on obesity and nutrition and has treated hundreds of thousands of patients during his career. In his most recent book on thyroid obesity, ``Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat?'' (Warner Books, 2001), he criticizes his colleagues for relying too heavily on lab tests for diagnosis of thyroid disorders, a practice that leads to many misdiagnoses. He also questions the efficacy of synthetic thyroid hormone and takes physicians to task for not recognizing the superior nature of natural thyroid hormone.


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