Thyroid UK
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URGENT: Mercury Pharma's Liothyronine(T3) 20mcg tablets unavailable until June 2013, what to do?

I have spoken to Mercury Pharma's "customer care" (020 8588 9273) who have confirmed that their T3 tablets are unavailable until June due to supply/manufacturing problems.

I am not confident about when they will next be available and am trying hard not to panic (like Lance-Corporal Jones in Dad's Army!).

What is to be done? How is this information filtering down to GPs?

24 Replies

you call your GP TODAY and tell him/her that they HAVE TO make alternative arrangements.

there is other brands of T3 available but these are unlicensed and your GP and PCT prescribing lead need to start working NOW on importing this for you.

My GP was alerted by me yesterday and she's in touch with the PCT lead to find an alternative as I am on T3 ONLY my health is at stake and I could be admitted to hospital if they don't provide me with the T3 which keeps me alive.


I have been in touch with my GP and their in-house pharmacy but to be honest I have little confidence in them. We shall see.

Why is it that we have to be our own advocates all the time? It is exhausting when you are unwell.

Thank you, regards Robert.


nobodysdriving posted this blog yesterday:

On the basis on information gathered, I said:

I urge everyone affected by this issue to contact their local PALS team as soon as possible.



Rod, when I called the PALS team they said to me 'speak to your GP practice manager' and that was that... :(

I think they'll wash their hands unless you get admitted to hospital.

If my T3 runs out they will find me in hospital 3 days later


I too am concerned I am due to get my script tomorrow I have four days left of T3 Liothyronine left. I have only been on them a month. I will phone pharmacies today in Hereford and make enquiries. I truly hope this isn't being done to make things difficult for us. Like you said it's hard enough being unwell without having to deal with not being able to get our meds. I couldn't sleep last night I had such a terrible panicky feeling come over me the thought of not being able to get thyroid meds worried me sick. However perhaps they just want us to buy our own. We are a great expense to the NHS being medically exempt from having our meds. Keep well stay safe.


why are we exempt . iwould pay the nhs prescription charge . asthmatics pay . just wondered ? i hope you got some tablets . i have just started too and reading this i checked and found myself in same boat . prescription placed in pharmacy last week coz they order mine in . will check now tomorrow if they have got some for me . yes frightened now . will lose my job and house if i go hypo as i am the only earner and not rented so no help from government with any benefits . besides the obvious illness that would ensue . i feel for you kezzerb. wil let u know if my pharmacy has stock of other doses


Popppy. We are exempt because you cannot survive without medication. And yet being put through the worry and stress of trying to source our meds is a true indication how our illness is being taken for granted. It is truly digraceful that this country has one manufacturer. Try not to worry we will all help one another if the matter in hand becomes dire.


Why is it in 2013 in England with an NHS which is supposed to be the envy of the world that people cannot get a vital medication because there is only one manufacturer who has the monopoly on the drug here?

It seems to me that its time that our MPs are made aware of this situation because let's face it this drug may be the one that's the problem at this moment but we are hearing about increasing problems with drugs almost daily. There has to be a reason for this and if its more about money and where these drug companies can make more profit, then it's time that this government put into place practises to at least protect supplies so that we are not at the whim of markets.


Boots in hereford do not have any and have confirmed out of stock until further notice. Sainsburys in hereford have 28 and have put them by for me although I need 56 because I have to take 40mg. Doing somemore ringing around it seems to me we on T3 are going to have a serious problem. I have noticed that on boots pharmacy online they are listed for sale obviously I don't know if they are available as I haven't entered in to purchasing them. Can someone please advise what other alternatives are there?


I 'gave up' ringing around, I am on 160mcg daily of T3 only (no t4 at all), my usual 56 days script is for SIXTEEN bottles. Most pharmacies have NONE, some have ONE bottle, GP refused to write 16 prescriptions for one bottle each says it's too much money as each prescription is money (the cheek!) as I was going to go to 16 different pharmacies scattered in and around london to get them.

Now GP says she will try and sort it out with the PCT and to 'hang on and wait'

I sourced 3 bottles, these will only last me 9 days!!! then the panic will strike again as this is going on for 2 months or maybe more :(


this is terrible for you . understatement sorry . and u were so kind in your personal dilemna to answer my query . thankyou and i so hope you get some . i have about 5 days i have just checked . any way that my prob . what about gold shield is it . i thought i had theirs once . is their no 5's either ? i know that wud be loads for u to take and cost more but thats not yr problem and so they need to help you . i would pay for my meds the nhs prescription fee so why dont we pay . asthamtics do ? may be they would not see us as a drain then


Hi poppppy, thank you for your support you are so nice x

things are getting there.

I wrote an email to my endo, he has replied, he said his hospital pharmacy has some T3 (he does not say how much though) and he has left me a prescription at the outpatient dept reception desk, however I am in Manchester (thur and fri) so will be unable to pick it up til monday, I hope they still have the T3 then....

so I have 9 days left plus whatever the endo has sourced, my pharmacist and the endo's pharmacist are currently trying to source T3 for me. I trust they will sort me out.


I have just rang mercury pharma and they have confirmed that all T3 is out of stock and that they have a manufacturer problem. The woman I spoke to was a health advisor. She confirmed that mercury pharma are the only manufacturer in the UK and that they make it. She just kept insisting that I get in touch with my gp for an alternative as they do not know when it will be readily available can you believe that people rely on it. I swear it's being done on purpose.


What a ridiculous situation by Mercury Pharma. They are the ONLY suppliers I know that supply the NHS with liothyronine. How on earth have they managed to have no stocks of such a helpful medication, especially for some who cannot get well on levothyroxine.

Something is badly wrong and also at the end of 2012, Eltroxin 100mcg was withdrawn by them too.


I am on Cytomel 20mcg (5mcg tablets) supplier is King Pharmaceuticals Canada. My GP surgery sources this so it must be licensed in the UK?


No - it is NOT licensed in the UK.

'Off-label' or 'unlicensed' prescribing

Sometimes doctors find that a licensed medicine works well for a certain condition, age group, or at a dose for which it has not been licensed by the regulator.

They prescribe it, based on their own and their colleagues’ experience, published studies, and findings presented at professional meetings. This is called 'off label' prescribing.

It is more likely to happen when there are either no alternatives, or where access to effective alternatives is restricted.

Sometimes doctors will also ask the MHRA to import a medicine that has been licensed outside Europe if they think this might help a particular patient, on what is known as a named patient basis or 'unlicensed' use.

And King are now owned by Pfizer. :-)



Thanks Rod, I had no idea!

Not sure why they prescribed this brand instead of generic but I don't think I will ask them! My GP is also the dispensary as I live out in the sticks :)


Because there is no 5 microgram licensed product - we only have 20 microgram generic liothyronine from Mercury Pharma.

I guess you are on a dosing regime such as 25 a day? Or Two 10s (which you split the 20 in half to get) and One 5 (but they don't expect you to split the 20 into quarters). Or something like that.

In 2012 there were (if I am reading it right) 168 prescriptions for 5 microgram Cytomel in England at an average cost per prescription of £394.12.



I started on 10mcg in one dose per day and then increased after about 6 weeks to 10mcg twice a day (along with T4 etc). The Endo wrote to my GP asking him to prescribe and Cytomel is what they gave me from the start (it just said Liothyronine in the letter to GP).

I knew it was expensive but I'm a bit gobsmacked at the cost per prescription!

Thanks :)


Please see both of my blogs below, they contain letter for members to copy and paste into emails, to raise awareness of the cost of T3 in the UK, you could also add a paragraph about the current shortage.


I have included a link that gives a list of all the countries and different names that supply liothyronine.


Is it the responsibility of the GP surgery to ensure that prescriptions can be fulfilled? Mine have just said that they do not have any and are giving me the paper prescription for me to try and find T3 elsewhere. Like most of you I am ringing round every pharmacy in the area - with mixed success. I am ok for the next month but would not want the shortage to continue for longer.

I am a bit disgruntled about the lack of concern at the surgery.

(Silly comment from hubby who said that I should start weaning myself off T3 now so that it won't matter!!)


Hi everyone,

We too are having terrible problems getting T3 here on the Essex/Suffolk Border. I have just spent quite a bit of time ringing around to see if anyone has it in stock. To make matter worse I took the prescription into our local Asda and they fulfilled just 1/4 of it, I didn't realise at that time that there was a nationwide shortage. As they have given us part of the meds we are now stuck getting the rest of the meds from them :O(

Simon has now made an appt to see him gp tonight to see if he will give him a further 2 prescriptions of 56 as I have found 2 pharmacies who have these amounts in, that should get him through to the end of June when, fingers crossed, its back in stock again.

If anyone in our area is stuck there is another pharmacy in Ipswich that has 28 in stock, I can give you there number.

Many thanks



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