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Eltroxin concerns highlight medicine issues

Jackie Blue MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

18 June 2008

Eltroxin concerns highlight medicine issues

News that patients are experiencing problems on Eltroxin, a sole supply thyroid medication, after its formulation was changed, is a case of déjà vu, says National Party Associate Health spokeswoman (Pharmacare) Jackie Blue.

“This is shaping up to be the same sort of debacle that we saw when Ritalin was substituted for Rubifen without all the necessary homework.”

For the past several weeks there have been media reports that a number of patients are having problems with Eltroxin.

Eltroxin is used as a treatment for an under performing thyroid gland, which boosts the level of thyroid hormone essential to keep the body functioning normally.

“I spoke to Southland Pharmacist Allan Campbell who told me that Medsafe had informed him they had not requested bio-equivalence studies to check blood levels that the new formulation Eltroxin was working effectively.

“Subsequent blood tests from affected patients had proven that their normal dose was ineffective. This is all strangely familiar.”

Last year there were numerous complaints from patients when Pharmac switched from Ritalin, a medication used to treat attention deficit disorders, to a cheaper sole supply drug, Rubifen.

“Many children did not tolerate the switch to Rubifen and it turned out the bio-equivalence studies that had been done were done several years earlier on Irish males.

“Following the public uproar, Pharmac said it would be reviewing sole supply contracts and would look at a system where 1% of patients who could prove that they could not tolerate the switch would have the option of returning to their original medication.

“But all this seems to have been rhetoric. Nothing has happened and now we have yet another patient group suffering.”


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