a rant

Several close relatives have been urging my mother to get back on Synthroid to the exclusion of dealing with her other medical problems. The last any of them had anything at all close to medical training was high school biology class. Not one of them expended effort on doing research or looking into details although all have internet access. So, in hopes that others can benefit from my mom’s unfortunate experience, here goes.

Once a patient’s thyroid gland is removed, they need to take synthetic thyroid hormone for life. Abbot would like for people to believe that not using anything other than Synthroid ™ is the “rule” to follow. It has been a big money maker for them for over 50 years. Of course, in our for-profit medical system aggressive marketing is the rule (the FDA has determined that the generic forms of levathyroxine are equivalent to Synthroid). So my relatives felt they were justified in telling mom repeatedly that she should be on Synthroid because that is what their physicians told them — not to switch from Synthroid once they started on it.

The prudent procedure is actually to avoid switching from ANY brand once a patient has been taking levothyroxine for 4 to 6 weeks and has verified by blood tests that their hormone level is in an acceptable range. In my mother’s case, she had switched from Synthroid to one of the generic brands months ago and had several times had therapeutic hormone levels confirmed by blood tests. The last of these tests was about three weeks ago, after she started experiencing some rather dreadful symptoms.

So, when mom went to the doctor a couple days ago, she had her prescription switched to please people who should have known better. In her defence, although she has recovered significantly from two major brain bleeds last year, she gets confused easily. Both my parents’ formal education ended after 8th grade and the people involved are younger and healther, so it was an unfair match.

My dad drove directly from the doctor’s office to the drug store to get the new prescription filled. Synthroid is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in USA, so you would think there would be no trouble. They use Medicare Part D. Lets not go into that further right now other than he found because of insurance rules they could only get 7 pills of the month’s prescription that day and had to pay for them out of pocket. Of course he was worried about her being out in the car alone and not feeling well and got upset with the pharmacy staff.

Mother is a bad stick. The last time she had blood drawn the technician told her it was easier to get blood from a turnip. Now, if her physicians are conscientious, she will need another blood draw in a few weeks to check hormone levels again.

In addition mom risks that switching brands might alter her up to now therapeutic blood hormone levels and complicate treating serious medical problems she has been experiencing lately. So, looks like more suffering and expense is the price she will pay for trying to be agreeable.

I am feeling angry. My mom has been through so much already with health problems. What has happened with the relatives was uncomfortably close to bullying and I have lost respect for people I would like to be able to rely on. I feel helpless because I was unable to talk some sense into them. Deep inside I wonder how much me being disabled contributed to their ignoring what I had to say.

It is a bit unusual for me to make more than one blog post in a day, but this has been bugging me and hearing news reports of what is going on with health care reform in Washington only makes it worse.

About Kathy

Perl, MySQL, CGI scripting, web design, graphics following careers as an analytical chemist and educator, then in IT as a database administrator (DBA), programmer, and server administrator.
Diagnosed with Mitochondrial Myopathy in 1997.

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One Response to a rant

  1. Kathy says:

    I have a question for you KNOVA, when you found that the generic preparations did not work for you, were levels of thyroid hormone (T4, TSH) measured in your blood tests in the normal range?

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