Liothyronine (T3) Prescriptions 2007 - 2012 (England)

Liothyronine (T3) Prescriptions 2007 - 2012 (England)

This evening I had reason to check on the amount of Liothyronine (T3) prescribed over the past few years.

The rate of prescription of liothyronine is rising. At least according to the NHS' Prescription Cost Analysis (which happens to accord with my perception):

2007 2,871,700

2008 2,938,400

2009 3,133,900

2010 3,409,700

2011 3,731,400

2012 3,867,200

(Figures ignore 'specials' such as Cytomel or Paddock brands imported from the USA. Covers only 20mcg Liothyronine and the previous branded Tertroxin - which are the same thing.)

Interesting that it is steadily rising each and every year.


Image is a Clearfin lionfish

37 Replies

  • FANTASTIC, 'power' to T3 :)

    thanks Rod (and the fireworks photograph is indeed very appropriate as this is cause for celebration)

  • think it's a fish :D

  • ROFL :D

  • ...thanks Rod. Encouraging for those of us on T3 that we are not alone !! Maybe an interesting statistic to show Endos who say they are not allowed to prescribe !

  • Probably find most of prescribed by psychiatrists, oncologists, cardiologists, ... Anything but endos!

    (Not serious as to numbers - but others certainly do prescribe it sometimes.)

  • Some time ago I suggested a poll on "which medication" to see if the use of T3 has increased among forum members. There is a previous poll to which it could be compared, however as the forum numbers have increased there would need to be a need for statistical analysis.

    This would then include those who self medicate having given up on the struggle with the NSH and some/a lot of endos.


  • Well hardly any of that figure is being prescribed by my local hosp as my endo proudly told me yesterday, when I asked about his patients on T3 and the shortage at the moment, "we have hardly any patients here on T3 so it doesn't really concern us". Doesn't bode well for me if I do ever want to go back on T3 does it!!!!!

    Great news for other thyroid suffers though.

    Moggie x

  • 'doesn't really concern us'?????????

    I mean, even if they have ONE patient on T3, it doesn't really 'concern them' that that patient may well be critically ill if he/she runs out of T3?????????

    geeeeeeeee I thought I heard them all!

  • Unfortunately for me he is a TSH man only (told me I was fine with a TSH of 2.56) and I have had to battle to get an increase in T4 let alone T3. The only good thing I can say about this man is that he LOVES ordering tests so I have had a full MOT in the last few months but he is sticking by his original statement of "T3 doesn't work".

    As Rod has just said - the man is an Idjit.

    And you should know by now NBD that as far as the medical profession is concerned they have the monopoly on "stupid statements"

    Moggie x

  • no doubt, however if one of his 't3 only' patients gets admitted to intensive care I really think it WILL concern him that he has let the patient run out of T3! the man has to pray that does not happen to him.

  • How on earth does this man know that t3 doesn't work? Has he tried it.? Yup and idjit.

    Jo xx

  • Don't worry Jo I never let him get away with it as I had been taking T3 for a year and knew exactly how well it works. Unfortunately I don't think I made a big enough impact on this guy for him to offer the next poor thyroid patient T3.

    Moggie x

  • How interesting! having had a total thyroidectomy I have now been only on T3 for 5 months, so if it doesn't work presumably I should be dead or nearly dead by now, I have never seen an endo. and having read some of the comments on this site, I don't think I want to. Only seen my surgeon, who prescribes (I hope now there is a shortage) the liothyronine and oncologist. I am watching the developments from Mercury Pharmacy with interest, I sent them an email listing the effects on not taking thyroid medication the list ending with 'myxoedema and death' lets hope they do something soon too. Hope things improve for you too, Sally xx

  • He possibly doesn't realise that liothyronine is also prescribed by psychiatrists. And oncologists. Idjit.

  • Just wonder how much of that is due to cost inflation rather than an increase in prescription numbers (sorry accountancy training coming out here)?

  • That is tablets not cost. :-)

  • This is ridiculous!

    I've read that T3 is 4x more powerful than T4 and so you don't need as much. Perhaps it would be cheaper to prescribe this to many people along with the T4 if necessary. Plus if there is adequate demand then supply will increase making it cheaper. It's a case of basic economics, if you create a demand supply should follow.

  • "that T3 is 4x more powerful than T4" I have never understood this statement. T4 has to be converted to T3, it is not competing for membrane transport or receptor sites. If you don't convert T4 to T3 for whatever reason then there's problems. Too much T4 and rT3 increases and this can block T3's rightful place.

    So, I don't think there is an economic argument for T3, only a functional argument.

  • Rod - are you saying that UK physicians are able to prescribe liothyronine other than the Cytomel for people who, like me, have to pay to have it imported into the UK? I'd thought doing what I do was the only method to get it inside the UK


  • Hi

    See here for info on this:



  • Thanks for this.

    So, if this is for the number of actual prescriptions issued, is it just arough guide as to people/quantity? Assuming that some people might get their script monthly or less frequently, and others may get bigger or smaller nos. of tablets, is there any way it can be known what that represents in nos of tablets?

  • Source of raw data:



  • No it wasn't! (Though it might be exactly the same numbers behind the scenes.)

    It was here:

    That is number of tablets.


  • What are the benefits of T3 medication?. Does everything work better, including metabolism?

  • It suits some people much better to be on T3 only or T3/T4 combination.

    It's particularly helpful if you have problems converting T4 to T3.

    If you have more questions on this, I would suggest posting a new question as comments can get missed...



  • At least if the numbers are rising it might make them sit up and take notice...well, here's to hoping!

  • I had a very short trial of T3 after asking for it from what I'd been reading on here but was taken off it again after a month as I couldn't say I felt dramatically better but the thing I couldn't understand was that my T3 levels weren't checked before, only after (I was in range whilst on it) and never since, I keep being told that by my endo that T3 doesn't effect anything and my gp can't request on as it has to be done by and endo!!!! aaarrrgggghhhhh been moaned at at work today for having heating on as so cold despite a 2 and half mile walk into work which I'd hoped might help me start the day warmer as well as helping the once again increasing waist line following another drop in my Thyroxine because I'm at the limits of my ranges!!!! It's a constant battle and I never seem on a plato!!! (sorry, ended up being a bit of a rant!)

  • My breast cancer surgeon, who also does thyroid surgery, mentioned at my last check up that they use T3 for patients post thyroidectomy, (I think they then move them across to T4 but don't quote me), as they have found it to be more effective!!!!!!!!!!

    This came out of the conversation we had concerning our labs now only testing TSH, he thought it was crazy and said that in a complex situation you could not tell anything without a FULL blood panel!!!

    There are some good ones out there, sadly not very many!

  • If the real reason that T3 is not prescribed is because of the huge cost and yet it is available from abroad for a fraction of the price surely the drug company supplying it is to blame! What can be done to stop this criminal practice ? Why is it allowed to happen?? I have written to 'Rip off Britain' to ask if they would investigate this . There must be other illnesses which are affected by this problem !!! Ging

  • The problem with businesses is that they are in it for the money, they don't really care about the sick people that need the medications.

    I once worked with someone who had lost his job, he had worked for a large french drug manufacturer as a buyer and he missed his job badly, mainly because of the perks. He went to the Grand Prix in Monico and traveled the world sourcing ingredients for drugs and potential suppliers. He eventually went back into this business and I never met him again but the way he spoke about his job he lived the high life. It's not fair when you need the meds and you are so ill that you cannot take your dog for a walk around the estate where you live.

  • Is it possible to find out how many people on T4 are also on other medication such as SSRI's because their symptoms are not alleviated on T4 alone?

  • Sorry for late answer, but I cannot see how to extract that sort of information from the data readily available to the public.


  • It seems like there is a lot of information that is not available around thyroid care and treatment decisions might not be very reliable as a result. It does worry me that drug companies make so much money out of supplying levothyroxine but don't seem to be very responsible for maintaining supplies or quality of the tablets. They also often supply the other drugs that patients are put onto with thyroid problems such as SSRI's or propranolol. I'm being cynical but perhaps it isn't in the drug companies' interests to supply quality levothyroxine? Maybe it will be better after 2014 when new legislation will apply?

  • I will put the pharmaceutical companies in the dock for lots of things - but I really don't think any of them want the costs of things like recalls. When things get that bad (as in Teva 50 and 100 tablets), I suspect the losses dwarf any gains.

    Reputational damage is also not helpful.


  • Hi Rod

    I'd be really grateful if you could provide me with the source of this data. I've received a response from the Dept of Health to my letter about getting Tiromel Licenced - one of the excuses they have given is that it would cost too much for Tiromel to be licenced and this cannot be justified in these austere times! I want to write back to them with an illustration of the potential saving.

    Many thanks


  • It was at this link:

    The trouble as I see it is that the budget out of which licensing costs could come is not the one which would see savings!

    (Current political situation in Turkey may not be ideal either.)

    And if you think I made a mistake in my interpretation of data (as you look through) I am quite prepared to be corrected anywhere! Far better have the right info. available.


  • Thanks Rod, much appreciated, hopefully these costings will add weight to my argument.


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