T3 price gouging
Sign the petition here to end high prices: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/593723
Fortunately we can all make our own T3 from T4. This is inhibited by taking oral T3. This means that if you start taking T3, it can be difficult to stop unless the conversion to T4 is carefully managed. This is because auto-regulation occurs at every step. The same applies to normal people who take thyroxine (T4). Stopping it can be difficult, because the pathway to switch it on (TSH) will be suppressed by exogenous oral T4.
Some patients with thyroid cancer need to use T3 at times on a protocol to suppress the TSH deliberately, especially before uptake scans. For short periods, T3 therapy is safe, and if it might prevent thyroid cancer recurrence, then taking T3 for a short period outweighs the risk of side effects. However once patients have been clear for a period (between 3 and 7 years depending on the histology of the thyroid cancer), then TSH suppression causes more harm than good, as there is a slow but persistent loss of bone, and over many years this will cause osteoporosis. In addition the risk of arrhythmias increases with age, and a suppressed TSH is known to increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, which in turn is associated with stroke. For this reason, once your thyroid cancer is in remission, coming off T3 is important.
Recently the price of T3 has increased. In 2007, it cost £4.46 for a month’s supply of 20mcg and this has increased to £186 in 2021. This is obvious price gouging. The CMA has imposed fines:
Although patients who are on T3 can be converted to T4 (and for this reason the NHS advised doctors to stop prescribing T3), it is not reasonable for this high price to continue. Advanz Pharma are appealing against this decision:
If you are being forced to pay for your own T3, because you have tried to come off it too quickly, there is a T3 withdrawal service at Charing Cross that your GP could refer you to.
The price of liothyronine will not fall until someone starts to manufacture T3 at a more reasonable price. We had a similar situation with hydrocortisone, and the price only fell when a company in West London made some for our research, proving that this works. Many companies now make hydrocortisone at a reasonable price, and for details see: Hydrocortisone pricing
For generic drugs such as liothyronine, we suggest that the NHS makes its own at a reasonable price in competition with other companies. If you agree, please have a look at the petition: