Even though the shortage of natural desiccated thyroid  hormone medication in the US continues in early 2010, patients who prefer natural thyroid medications still have options for receiving natural desiccated thyroid hormone and using a compounding pharmacy that can customize natural thyroid hormone may be an option for you. Synthetic thyroid hormone replacement is not the only alternative  for those thyroid patients who’ve found that using a synthetic type of medication does not resolve their hypothyroid symptoms.

One of the options is to use a compounding pharmacy. What is a compounding pharmacy, you may ask?  A compounding pharmacy provides medications that are specifically formulated or compounded to meet individual needs of patients. Physicians can request that a medication be “customized” for a patient,  and this can be a good choice specifically if patients have allergies or sensitivities to specific fillers that may be found in other more mass produced type medications.  A valid prescription is still required in order to obtain a medication from a compounding pharmacy.

thyroid-treatment Physicians or Health Care Providers May Use a Compounding Pharmacy in the Following Cases:

* To adjust or customize a medication in terms of the dosage. In the case of patients needing thyroid hormone, individualized amounts of T3 and T4 can be adjusted by the compounding pharmacist to meet the needs of a specific patient

* Medications that are not available commercially may be compounded

* If a medication has been discontinued, a compounding pharmacy may still be able to create the specific medicine for a patient

* For patients taking a variety of medications it may sometimes be possible and/or more convenient to have a combined medication created rather than having to take individual medicines

Using a compounding pharmacy can be beneficial as well because pharmacists can adjust flavors, sizes, dosages, shapes, and forms of certain prescriptions. Flavorings or sweetness can be added to make medicines more palatable. Liquids can be prepared as opposed to capsules or sometimes even medications that were taken by mouth could be converted into a cream which could then be used on the skin if prescribed by your physician. So compounding offers many options and solutions for certain situations in which commercially available medications are not good options.

Not every pharmacy has the ability to do compounding of medications. Generally speaking the large chain type pharmacies are not able to perform compounding. To find a compounding pharmacy in your area you can search search the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP)’s Compounding Pharmacist Locator Online or by calling the Compounding Pharmacy Referral Hotline toll-free at 800-927-4227.

Note: Using a compounded pharmacy to create a customized version of your natural desiccated thyroid medication does not guarantee that the formula will work well in your individual situation. Getting the proper dosage, brand, and type of thyroid medication for your personal situation can be tricky. That’s why so many readers were upset when Forest Labs changed their Armour Formulation. Before using a compounding pharmacy ask the pharmacist what types of fillers they use for compounding. Some patients using compounded thyroid hormone are reporting that they are not doing well if the compounders are using microcrystalline cellulose or Avicel, which is the trade name. Some patients are reporting that their compounding pharmacies will use dextrose or sugar as a filler, or olive oil, or plain with no fillers and are finding that these options are working better for them. Obviously, you will need to be wary about using dextrose if blood sugar issues are a problem, but many patients report that the capsules are very tiny and the amount of sugar is very small. The bottom line is to know that not all compounding pharmacies will make the thyroid hormone in the same manner, and so if you are using a compounded version and it is not working for you, feel free to ask further questions and/or try another type of filler to see if that helps you find a solution that is workable.

The bottom line is not to give up if you are taking thyroid medication and are still trying to find the right brand, dosage, and type that works for you. Yes, it can take trial and error, and yes, the shortage of natural thyroid hormone in the US has presented challenges for patients. But using a compounding pharmacy to make your own customized thyroid medication can be an option for some of you. There are other options for how to get natural thyroid hormone medications as we previously discussed.

If you are using a compounding pharmacy and are having good results we’d love to hear your story. Alternatively, if you have tried a compounded version of natural thyroid hormone and it did not work for you, please share your experience as well. As always, feel free to leave your comments and or questions at the bottom of this article.