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Propylthiouracil / PTU

Antithyroid Drug Used to Treat Graves’ Disease and Hyperthyroidism

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Updated May 16, 2010

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The antithyroid drug propylthiouracil - PTU - is used to treat Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism.

The antithyroid drug propylthiouracil - PTU - is used to treat Graves' disease and hyperthyroidism.

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Antithyroid drugs - also referred to as thionamides - are medications that treat an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) by blocking the thyroid gland's ability to produce thyroid hormone. In the treatment of an overactive thyroid - which most commonly results from the autoimmune condition known as Graves' disease -- it is critical to slow down the gland's excess production of thyroid hormones, especially the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Antithyroid drugs work by making it more difficult for the body to use iodine, thereby blocking the formation of thyroid hormones in the gland.

Antithyroid drugs are one of the key treatments for hyperthyroidism and Graves' disease. The other treatments include radioactive iodine (RAI) ablation, and surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland.

There are two key antithyroid drugs currently available in the United States: propylthiouracil - which is usually abbreviated as PTU - and methimazole. In the United States, methimazole is considered the preferred antithyroid drug in most situations.

In the United States, there are a number of generic manufacturers of the antithyroid drug propylthiouracil (PTU).

Generic Propylthiouracil from Actavis Elizabeth

Actavis Elizabeth received FDA approval for the manufacture of propylthiouracil (PTU) in 1973.

Actavis -- 60 Columbia Rd, Building B, Morristown, NJ 07960 USA, Phone: 973 993 4500, Fax: 973 993 4303, Activis Website, Prescribing information

Actavis propylthiouracil ingredients: propylthiouracil USP; lactose monohydrate; corn starch; colloidal silicon dioxide; povidone; pregelatinized starch; and magnesium stearate.

Strengths available: 50 mg

Generic Propylthiouracil from West-Ward Pharmaceutical Corp.

West-Ward Pharmaceutical received FDA approval for the manufacture of propylthiouracil (PTU) in 1971.

West-Ward Pharmaceutical Corp. -- 401 Industrial Way W, Eatontown, NJ 07724, Phone:732 542 1191, Fax: 732 542 0940 fax, West-Ward Website, Prescribing Information

West-Ward propylthiouracil ingredients: propylthiouracil USP; anhydrous lactose; magnesium stearate; microcrystalline cellulose; pregelatinized starch; and sodium starch glycolate.

Strengths available: 50 mg

Generic Propylthiouracil from Dava Pharmaceuticals

Dava Pharmaceuticals, Inc. received FDA approval to manufacture propylthiouracil in 1947. The drug is distributed by the Lederle Pharmaceutical Division of Standard Products.

Dava Pharmaceuticals, Inc. -- Parker Plaza, 400 Kelby Street, 10th Floor, Fort Lee, New Jersey 07024, Toll Free: 866 947 3282, Telephone: 201 947 7442, Fax: 201 947 7536 Dava Website, Prescribing information (PDF)

Dava propylthiouracil ingredients: propylthiouracil USP; corn starch; docusate sodium; magnesium stearate; microcrystalline cellulose; modified food starch; sodium benzoate; and sodium starch glycolate.

Strengths available: 50 mg

Propylthiouracil Outside the United States

Propylthiouracil is sold by a variety of manufacturers around the world, under a number of different names, discussed in this article on antithyroid drugs outside the U.S..

Sources:

Daily Med, U.S. Food and Drug Administration medication Database, Online
FDA Drug Safety Communication: New Boxed Warning on severe liver injury with propylthiouracil, April 21, 2010 Online
Ross, Douglas MD, "Patient information: Antithyroid drugs," UpToDate. Last updated: November 13, 2009

With thanks to Leslie Blumenberg for her research support for this article

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