It's a worry when you have to explain the difference between Liothyronine and Levothyroxine to your Pharmacist

Went to collect my prescription for my Levothyroxine today from my Pharmacy in my local Tescos. I also have an outstanding prescription for Liothyronine for reasons we all know. She came to the counter with my prescription for the Levothyroxine to tell me that for some reason there is a problem obtaining the Liothyronine and I should go back to my doctor and ask her to up my prescription for Levothyroxine as it is an alternative for Liothyronine and is exactly the same. Having explained the reason for the lack of Liothyronine I then spent 5 minutes explaining to her that Levothyroxine is not a substitute and telling her the difference between the two medications, T4 and T3!

I am now so annoyed I am going to write to my MP. Will be interesting to see his reply because on previous occasions when I have written to him on other matters I have received bog standard replies that have never answered my direct questions.

14 Replies

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  • Oh heck...doesn't fill you with confidence, does it. Keep us posted x

  • Just had a similar conversation with a pharmacist. I went to pick up my prescription for my usual pharmacy to be told about the problems with liothyronine. She suggested i popped into the one along the road to see whether he had any, handing me back the unfilled prescription. I went to the other one and was told they had no liothyronine and there was none in the country so to go back to the GP and see if he will increase the thyroxine "because its only such a small dose and its the same really" I stood there and told him it's not, that I had been taking both thyroxine together with the liothyronine for more than 10 years and I do know the difference. I came home and phoned around and found one pharmacy with about 14 liothyronine so I'll have them and wait until my next appointment at the beginning of June to see what the GP suggests.

  • I had the exact same conversation word for word at Boots Pharmacy!!

    "I should go back to my doctor and ask her to up my prescription for Levothyroxine as it is an alternative for Liothyronine and is exactly the same. Having explained the reason for the lack of Liothyronine I then spent 5 minutes explaining to her that Levothyroxine is not a substitute and telling her the difference between the two medications, T4 and T3"

  • No wonder we get anxious. Have had similar situations (not about T3).

    I tire of being understanding of how difficult other peoples jobs are.

    I do get stressed when tramping the streets to ask do they have Actavis in stock and am told no we only have Almus and vice versa. First time I noticed it on the shelf when told not in stock.

    Having it printed on the script is of no use if they cant get it.

    So now I ask for either...just to keep my irritation under control.

    So many times on many subjects Pharmacist/Assistants have made a little knowledge go a very long way and often the wrong way.

    I have a bog standard reply from Boots on dispensing thyroxine loose in a bottle.

    Oh ye just cant get the staff these days!!

    On going training sessions in the ever changing pharma world must be in place surely?

    Already getting twitchy got to collect my script will go out of my way to go to a Pharmacist whose first language is not English as have found them to be very knowledgeable? wyn

  • Yep, i've been told the same thing in the past. Last time was by the practice manager at my old doctor's surgery - 'It's the same thing' - umm, no it's not.

  • You might consider complaining to Tesco (or whoever actually operates their pharmacies if another company). To not know is one thing. To try to persuade you from that position of ignorance is not at all good.

    Rod

  • WOW, i am shocked by the lack of knowledge/ understanding of these pharmacists, Yesterday i also spoke to my pharmacist and asked if he supplied armour thyroid to any of his customers, he had never heard of it! I forgot to ask him why he keeps changing the brand of my levothyroid!

    Mary

  • It's shocking but since doctors are mostly pretty ignorant about Thyroid issues, hardly surprising.There was a lady on our local news last night who has made a short film to raise awareness about Thyroid Cancer. I wish someone would produce one about the problems faced by people with Thyroid disease. It would be an eye-opener for a lot of people...and maybe need an X certificate!!

  • Obviously this is a common ignorance.

    When trying to obtain T3 recently it was suggested by a pharmacist that I take a substitute...levothyroxine!

  • It's like saying that opium is the same as a paracetol.

  • Good analogy!

  • The British National Formulary (BNF) which is used by all healthcare professionals states:

    "Liothyronine sodium has a similar action to Levothyroxine but is more rapidly metabolised and has a more rapid effect; 20–25 micrograms is equivalent to 100 micrograms of Levothyroxine. Its effects develop after a few hours and disappear within 24 to 48 hours of discontinuing treatment".

    There are also various studies on the benefits of taking both the above as, I am sure you know, t4 is naturally converted to t3 in the body.

  • But if the pituitary doesn't convert t4 to t3 then liothyronine is necessary

  • Yes, you are correct. The conversion between the two medicines would only be of benefit in people who can convert t4 to t3.

    Indeed it is different in cases where the body cannot convert naturally. It would be worth talking to the healthcare professionals you have all come into contact with, giving them the full picture to give them a better understanding of you as individuals. They are only all referring to the (same) reference sources available to them to try and help everyone.

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