What shortage?

This is not the first time we have been here - some patients being told there are supply problems (with MercuryPharma levothyroxine, in this case), yet the official line being plain that there is no such issue.

I really don't know how this comes about. My suspicion is that there could be a distribution problem. Perhaps one of the companies that handles the product failed to have the right amounts in the right places at the right time? Even though there is plenty in total.

Hopefully the response I had is both true and the end of the issue. But if you are told there is a problem, please quote this. If they insist there is a problem, try to get more details.

Dear <helvella>,

Many thanks for your recent enquiry regarding obtaining supplies of levothyroxine tablets.

We have been in contact with Amco (MercuryPharma) and they have confirmed that they currently have all strengths of levothyroxine tablets in stock. Pharmacies should be able to order these from their usual wholesalers.

I hope this is helpful,

Kind Regards


Senior Pharmacist

Medicines Pharmacy and Industry Group

Department of Health, Wellington House, 133 - 155 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UG

E: <person>@dh.gsi.gov.uk T: 020 7972 4149

(Slightly redacted in order not to offer a target for spam, etc.)

14 Replies

  • was that: "mercuryPharma"?

    Cannot be.

    No Mercury, no pharma.


  • I have never been able to get Mercury Pharma (MP) at Boots, they say that their suppliers don't stock it so I have used the Co Op in the past, but just last week tried to get my years supply, I'm not sure if the Co Op is still the Co Op? Anyway they said that they no longer stocked MP, so I went to an independent pharmacy just a few hundred yards away and they had it on the shelf didn't even need to order it in, all within use by dates of 1 year at least. So I'm wondering if when the pharmacy say they can't get it, it's because the wholesaler they use don't stock it, not because there's a supply problem. Just a thought.

  • Boots own the Almus brand - which is simply Actavis in another packet. Seems likely they prefer to stick with that, but it is a bit surprising if they really can't get hold of MercuryPharma (if it suited them :-) ).

  • I know you would think that if they wanted to they could get it, but I have a really good relationship with one pharmacist in Boots, we had a long chat one day all about the new guidance (2013) for Thyroxine and the fact that different brands have never gone though the bio equivalence testing and how all drugs are allowed to differ 5% either way of what it says on the packet and how if you are elderly, pregnant or sensitive to Thyroxine you are supposed to have your bloods checked if you change brands etc, etc, at the time I was trying to get hold of Mercury Pharmacy and he eventually said to me, “look I'm not supposed to say this, but if you really do need that brand then go to another Chemist as we can't get it our wholesalers don't stock it.” seems like they are tied in to particular wholesalers and if they don't stock it they can't get it.

  • Mart123,

    I wasn't meaning that it is at the individual pharmacist level. But Boots could choose a policy which allowed them to supply all three makes of levothyroxine if they saw it as being in their interests. Might be a boardroom-level decision, but possible.

  • My Boots only seems to have MercuryPharma - I'd actually like to try something different!

  • The world is better off without MP levo. Maybe they've finally realised there's a problem with the stuff and it's incredibly inconsistent and boardering on toxic.

    MP levo has caused so many problems for so many people. Good riddance !

  • I do know what you mean however with me all brands make me ill and I've tried them all, I just have a problem with Thyroxine in general not any particular brand, so I just went for a brand that was readily available so that I could avoid the problems that I have when changing brands, I do know that some people can't take some brands, and then you get people like me who struggle with all of them, guess I'm just lucky! Will be really cross if I can no longer get MP as know it will take me six moths to settle on a new brand. Did wonder about ordering from Germany where they do a brand that only has one filler and also available in any strength from 1mg to things like 30mg or 112mg where as we are messing about cutting up pills to try and get specific amounts as I think, correct me if I'm wrong we only do 25/50/100 strengths.

  • I absolutely agree Flatfred ... poison.

  • In my experience some pharmacists will do everything in their power to get you onto a cheaper brand. Mercury Pharma tabs cost twice or three times as much. Boots were downright rude when I tried there once - quizzing me as to why I wanted those and that in future they wouldnt give them to me without it being specified on the script. Its a cost issue if you ask me.. I stick to one pharmacy who know I want this brand and if out of stock they are available next day.

    But, noting comments on the tablets made by mercury pharma by other people, I would be interested in knowing which brands other total thyroidectomy patients' deem to be a good brand - as mine are replacement meds they need to be A1....Ive been on thyroxine for 51 years - I think I had Eltroxin for a long time.

  • greenhills,

    I'd be very interested if the price of MercuryPharma product were twice or thrice that of Actavis.

    Assuming UK only, there are only three makes.


    (On the basis that few people actually get only 25 microgram Wockhardt tablets, it is a case of Actavis or MercuryPharma.)

    MercuryPharma make Eltroxin. For reasons that are not altogether clear, they withdrew Eltroxin from the UK market a few years ago - but continue to supply it to Ireland (and, possibly, some other countries).

  • Mercury pharma eltroxin is the only licenced eltroxin available in ireland..we have no choice of other brands..

  • rojael,

    I keep wondering if anyone out there switches between the Eltroxin you get in Ireland and the MercuryPharma we get in the UK? The company insists that the formulation is identical in both (though there used to be a tiny discrepancy in the 50 microgram tablet a few years ago).

    Does anyone think that the two products are different or the same - based on recent experience of the Ireland and UK products?

  • Before I gave up on Levo I've taken MP for many many years starting when it was called Eltroxin, then. Goldshirld and now Mercury Phsrma. Along the way I discover different brands are made to different strengths so always to stick with the same brand which I did and it was written on each prescription so the phsrmacy had to supple that. They also suggested that I got a month in advance incase they had a problem getting it. So each month I would order a day or two earlier so I could stockpile and have a bit of a cushion. I was making my dose up with multiples of 25 mcg. I then saw the costs and thought to save the NHS some money changed my prescription to given me 100 mcg or 25 mcg but I had a lot of 25's to use up. It was then I found that 4x 25 was not giving the same results as 1x 100 so I would say it is critical to be consistent

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