A publication of the American Thyroid Association

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In mid-March, we were made aware of a nationwide shortage of LEVOXYL, a branded levothyroxine product. The parent company, Pfizer, released a letter containing the following notice:

“We are writing to inform you that LEVOXYL (levothyroxine sodium), a prescription medicine approved to treat hypothyroidism and for the treatment or prevention of certain types of goiter, is currently on backorder. Pfizer stopped shipping all strengths* of the product on February 13, 2013. Pfizer is discussing the backorder situation with the FDA and will resume shipment once the issue is resolved.”

Subsequently, Pfizer released a letter on April 1 that LEVOXYL is being recalled and that it may not be available again until 2014.

” King Pharmaceuticals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer Inc, has initiated a recall of LEVOXYL (levothyroxine sodium) at retail pharmacies. LEVOXYL is a prescription medicine approved to treat hypothyroidism and prevent certain types of goiter.

The voluntary LEVOXYL recall is due to complaints from pharmacists and patients of an uncharacteristic odor after some LEVOXYL bottles have been opened. The odor is related to the oxygen-absorbing canister that is packaged in the 100-count and 1000-count bottles. Pfizer has conducted a careful health assessment and has concluded that the odor is not likely to cause any adverse health consequences. However, the company discussed this situation with the FDA and decided, out of an abundance of caution, to voluntarily recall all strengths* of LEVOXYL to the retail level. There is no need for patients to return or discard the medication they have, as they may continue to take the medication in accordance with their health care provider’s prescribed directions.”

We will keep you informed as we receive further updates. In the absence of LEVOXYL, other levothyroxine preparations include the branded preparations SYNTHROID® (AbbVie) and TIROSINT®(Akrimax)(and others) and the generic preparations. The ATA recommends that you have your thyroid levels check 6-8 weeks after a change to another levothyroxine preparation.

— Alan P. Farwell, MD