Patients Treated with Desiccated Thyroid Extract Find Therapy Effective

An analysis shows that patients find desiccated thyroid extract to be more effective and improve patient outcomes better than other therapies.

Freddy Toloza, MD

Desiccated thyroid extract may be more effective than other thyroid hormone medications, according to the findings of a study to be presented at the Endocrine Society (ENDO) 2020 Annual Scientific Sessions.

Freddy Toloza, MD, and colleagues analyzed patient-reported information from online forums to understand patient preferences and attitudes about the use of desiccated thyroid extract to treat hypothyroidism. The team found that patients described desiccated thyroid extract as moderately-to-majorly effective overall and more effective than previous therapy.

“The findings underscore the need for clinicians to individualize therapy approaches from hypothyroidism,” Toloza, from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences & Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit, said in a statement.

Toloza and the team of investigators initially searched 10 popular patient forums based on the number of users. The investigators used key terms including desiccated thyroid extract; desiccated thyroid treatment thyroid USP; commercial names of desiccated thyroid extract; thyroid extract; and hypothyroidism.

The team then extracted information on patient demographics and clinical characteristics and then qualitatively analyzed the content of the posts to understand the perceptions on desiccated thyroid extract and other hormone replacement therapies.

Overall, Toloza and the team retrieved 1235 posts and analyzed the data of 673 posts from 3 forums: WebMD, Patients Like Me, and Drugs.com.

When examining the posts, the investigators found that 45% of patients said their clinician is the reason they were interested in trying desiccated thyroid extract. Reasons for switching to desiccated thyroid extract from a different therapeutic approach included lack of symptom improvement (58%) and side effects (22%).

A majority of patients (81%) reported that desiccated thyroid extract was moderately-to-majorly effective overall, while 77% said it was more effective than a previous therapy they had (77%).

Benefits associated with desiccated thyroid extract included an improvement in clinical symptoms (56%) and a change in overall well-being (34%).

Approximately 20% of patients described side effects from using desiccated thyroid extract.

Additional analysis raised issues relating to the importance of individualizing treatment approaches for hypothyroidism and the difficulties in obtaining desiccated thyroid extract.

Desiccated thyroid extract—or nature thyroid, thyroid USP, or Armour thyroid—is an alternative treatment made from dehydrated pig thyroid glands. Anywhere between 10-25% of patients with hypothyroidism use the medication despite it not being approved yet by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Typically, patients with hypothyroidism—.5-2% of the US population—are recommended levothyroxine (LT4), a synthetic thyroid hormone.

More research is needed on patient-reported outcomes to better explain the what’s responsible for therapy preferences in this population of patients.

The study, “Utilizing Patient Online Forums to Capture Experiences and Perceptions Associated with the Use of Desiccated Thyroid Extract,” will be presented at the Endocrine Society (ENDO) 2020 Annual Scientific Sessions.