On April 11, 2016 an article, Doctors Hear Patients’ Calls for New Approaches to Hypothyroidism, appeared in the Wall Street Journal regarding the growing influence of patient preference on treatment selection for hypothyroidism (sluggish thyroid). The article was written by the WSJ health columnist Melinda Beck. I might have missed it but thanks to a motivated patient I received a copy within a week after its publication. With a glance I knew this report could be a highly significant addition in the on-going debate between specialists treating hypothyroidism (endocrinologists) and advocates of alternative approaches.
For most of the past half century medical specialists have insisted there is basically only one way to treat hypothyroidism, that being the administration of Synthroid, the dominant brand of synthetic thyroid hormone. Having received conventional training as an endocrinologist, initially I also believed in the Synthroid dogma. As years in medical practice went by however, it became increasingly clear that a good number of patients never fully recovered their sense of well being using Synthroid. Due to the persistent efforts of advocacy groups comprised mostly of thyroid disease sufferers and the work of a hand full of researchers, a more complete picture is emerging about the role of alternative approaches to disease treatment using combinations of thyroid hormones.
After reading Beck’s article I reached out to her with an email expressing gratitude for her excellent investigative journalism on a topic which has troubled my profession for so long. I also wanted to get my two cents in. She surprised me by writing back and what followed was a lively correspondence on this and related topics.
I found this journalist to be clearly savvy about the financial and business aspects of medical treatment, as would be expected of a Wall Street Journal reporter. More than that she is also keenly interested in how medical knowledge evolves (or is stalemated, as in this case). On a humanitarian level Beck also appreciated the plight of those stuck with treatment that failed to provide full relief from the symptoms of this common disorder.
It is a great relief to know those in main stream media are catching on to these issues. New leaders in the field of endocrinology such as Anthony Bianco, MD, PhD, now president of the American Thyroid Association, also interviewed by Beck, are providing solid scientific evidence showing why treatment of hypothyroidism is far from a “one treatment fits all” approach. Only when the prevailing medical societies recognize that 50 years of dogma has to give way to fresh insights will alternative treatment for hypothyroidism be available to everyone.
The next step in the effort to change medical opinion is to build upon our petition with over 200 signatures as of this date, advocating for broader options for treatment of hypothyroidism. Once we have a sufficient number of supporters the petition will be sent to leaders in industry, medical policy and national politics. Pressure must be put on those responsible for producing the guidelines for treatment of thyroid disease, so that the era of “Synthroid only” can finally come to an end.
(You can support these efforts by signing the petition at; http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/continued-supply-of-armour-thyroid )