Study Suggests Thyroid Drug Levothyroxine May Cause Fractures in Elderly


June 25, 2011

A recent study that was published in the British Medical Journal shows that the drug levothyroxine, which is used to treat thyroid problems, has been linked to an increased risk of bone fractures in elderly patients.

In the study, more than 210,000 users of the drug, 70 years old and older, were analyzed. The study was looking for increased risk of fracture in areas such as the hip, femur, pelvis, lumbar spine, thoracic spine, upper arm, forearm, wrist and shoulder. Thinning of the bones often causes these types of fractures.

The thyroid gland produces a hormone called thryroxine. Levothyroxine is a synthetic form of that hormone. When the thyroid stops functioning or is functioning poorly, conditions such as cretinism, myxedema, nontoxic goiter or hypothyroidism can occur. The FDA approved levothyroxine to help treat these types of problems. Physicians can also prescribe the drug for "off-label" uses not approved by the FDA.

More than 13 million American people use levothyroxine daily making it one of the most widely prescribed drugs in our country. Many patients take it for years. The patients in the study were levothyroxine users and were studied between the years 2001 and 2007, and the researchers found that just over 22,000 patients (10.4%) suffered bone fractures. These fractures occurred in the wrist or forearm, upper arm or shoulder, spine, pelvis, leg or ankle either while the patients were taking the drug or within six months of them stopping therapy with the drug.

The study also revealed that if the dosage of the drug was increased that the bone fractures increased as well. Most people that take the drug are on it for years or almost their whole life. Typically, patients remain on the same dosage during the entire course of treatment, but as a person ages, they reportedly need less of the drug. If their dosage is not adjusted, then they may be taking much more of the drug than they need. If this is the case, these patients are at risk for developing a condition called iatrogenic or drug-induced hyperthyroidism. Women are at even higher risk of this than men.

The role of the physician in all of this is that he should be monitoring the use of the drug by his patients and adjusting their dosage as they age. They are also responsible of notifying their patients who are taking the drug of the increased risk of bone fractures.

The brand names that levothyroxine drugs are sold under include: Eltroxin, Estre, Euthyrox, Levo-T, Levotabs, Levothroid, Levoxyl, Novothyrox, Synthroid, Thyrox, Unithroid and Thyrolar.

If you or someone you love has been injured by side effects of levothyroxine, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries. Call our Georgia levothyroxine lawsuit attorneys at Montlick & Associates today to learn if we can help. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.

Category: Personal Injury

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