Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are being prescribed thyroid drugs unnecessarily, according to research published in the BMJ.
According to the researchers, there is no proof that lifelong hormone treatment for mild underactive thyroid problems (hypothyroidism helps. The tablets do not appear to ease symptoms such as tiredness, low mood and weight gain.
‘Thyroid hormones are powerful drugs and GPs will only ever prescribe them if we think they are of genuine benefit to the person sitting in front of us, particularly as it usually means taking the tablets and being monitored in the long term,’ said Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairs of the Royal College of GPs.
‘If evidence shows that they are not going to be of benefit to our patients, it is important that we know this and that it is reflected in the clinical guidelines that inform our decision-making.’
Experts stressed that patients should not stop taking their medication, and should discuss them with their GP at their next routine medication review. Hypothyroidism affects about one in 20 people but is more common in older age and among women.
‘The authors make a powerful case based on emerging evidence and it is important that this new research is taken on board as clinical guidelines are updated and developed, in the best interests of our patients,’ added Professor Stokes-Lampard.