Prescription charges for thyroid: I've been... - Thyroid UK

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Prescription charges for thyroid

I've been merrily picking up my carb and propanalol from the chemist and not paying for them as I was told that thyroid medication is free on prescription. Went to pick up the last lot and it transpires that it's not free if your overactive only free for under active. does anyone know why? I asked the assistant and she claims it because carbimazole is used for a variety of conditions but I've not come across any other condition it used for other than overactive thyroid. Crazy world !

11 Replies

Bijysbird, Hyperthyroidism is not seen as a lifetime condition as it is often regulated by Carbimazole enabling a period/s of remission. Myxoedema (Hypothyroidism) is a lifelong condition requiring daily medication so prescriptions are exempt from charges.

I took carb for about 4yrs in all for graves,and i got a exemption certificate .got the form from the GP he signed it and then i posted it off.(as i was told in the surgery that all thyroid meds were free)ask your GP next time you visit.

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Lizzy1606

Fundamentally incorrect advice. People suffering from myxoedema are entitled to an exemption from charges.

People with certain medical conditions can get free NHS prescriptions if they hold a valid medical exemption certificate.

You can get all your NHS prescriptions free if you have a valid medical exemption certificate because you have:

a permanent fistula (for example, caecostomy, colostomy, laryngos-tomy or ileostomy) which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance;

a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s Disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential;

diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism;

diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone;


myasthenia gravis;

myxoedema (that is, hypothyroidism which needs thyroid hormone replacement);

epilepsy which needs continuous anticonvulsive therapy;

a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without the help of another person; or

cancer and are undergoing treatment for:

- cancer;

- the effects of cancer; or,

- the effects of cancer treatment.

You can only get a certificate if you have a condition on the list. If you are not sure about the name of your condition, check with your doctor. Doctors may advise you about free prescriptions. However, it is up to you to find out if you are entitled to an exemption certificate.

Although we might not be able to identify any such condition, if someone were treated with thyroid hormone for something other than myxoedema, then these rules would appear to exclude them. A subtle possibility is when someone is on block and replace for Graves disease.

And once you have an exemption, it applies to all medicines you are prescribed on the NHS.


in reply to helvella

LOL, cross posted. I've often thought that the reason our GPs are unwilling to treat hypothyroid symptoms is because of the entitlement to free prescriptions afterwards... Cynical, moi?

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to

Far better to cross post than to post crossly. :-)

Often suggested, never disproved, but...

I don't know enough about how the money goes round the system to understand if the GPs would actually benefit in any way.

Has the rate of diagnosis and treatment changed in, say, Scotland or Wales since abolition of prescription charges for everyone?

Is the rate different for those over 60 or in any other way already entitled to 'free' prescriptions?

Do we not also see very similar problems in countries with vastly different healthcare systems - such as the USA?


in reply to helvella

Hmm. Good questions. And I guess that I *don't* feel things are any worse in England compared to the rest of the world, though of course, I haven't undertaken the necessary research. :)

Thanks for making me think twice.

Lizzy1606 profile image
Lizzy1606 in reply to helvella

I did not say i was 100%sure that you could get an exemption certificate just that i got one for graves , and i would not lie ,and that you should ask the GP at next visit.(mine was valid for 4yrs and i have had it renewed every 4yrs even though you no longer pay for meds in Wales)

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Lizzy1606

Sorry Lizzy - really wasn't getting at you. Your doctor should have known better - though my personal view is that certainly Graves is a huge issue and absolutely as deserving.

We have seen a number of discussions and the only way that we can understand how Graves could be included is if the treatment (e.g. carbimazole) were regarded as causing myxoedema. However, properly managed (i.e. frequent blood tests and tapering dose as needed) it should never cause myxoedema.

No suggestion whatsoever that it was untrue.

Lizzy1606 profile image
Lizzy1606 in reply to helvella

Thats ok ,but why did my GP sign the form for me to get a certificate if i was not entitled ,why should i have got one and not someone else.

helvella profile image
helvellaAdministrator in reply to Lizzy1606

If you were prescribed levothyroxine at all (i.e. on a block and replace regime), I can see it is arguable. Otherwise, I suggest a) making a simple mistake; OR b) agreeing with me, it ought to qualify for exemption.


Clutter's right though. Hypothyroidism (or myxedema) is covered, hyperthyroidism isn't.

See (p.16 covers conditions)

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