Most Common Thyroid Drugs and What They Cost
high drug prices
Thyroid conditions are more common than you might think. According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the American population will develop a thyroid condition at some point during their lifetime. Like many other conditions, women are (for some reason) more likely to develop it, and an estimated 60% of people unknowingly have a thyroid condition.
Your thyroid is something you don't necessarily give much thought to until it's not doing its job properly (which is to create vital hormones that keep your body operating on all cylinders). For such a tiny little gland, the thyroid can certainly cause quite a few problems, such as sleep disruption, fatigue, weight loss or gain, hair loss, cold sensitivity, constipation, high cholesterol, dry skin and nails, and even a slow heart rate.
The good news is that thyroid conditions are very treatable. Additionally, there are multiple options available for people who require treatment. Here are the most common medications prescribed for various thyroid conditions and what they cost.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce an adequate amount of hormones. Sometimes, this is referred to as a "slow" thyroid. There are multiple medications that treat this condition, and typically people who require them will be on them for the rest of their lives.
Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Tirosint)
Levothyroxine is the active ingredient in quite a few medications designed to supplement thyroid hormones in the case of underactive thyroid. This may be a naturally occurring ailment in which the thyroid gland isn't producing enough hormone, or it could be a result of a medical procedure to treat a larger issue, such as radiation to intentionally slow the thyroid, or removal entirely. Levothyroxine is used in multiple common thyroid medications, such as Synthroid, Levoxyl, and Tirosint. It is designed to specifically replace the hormone thyroxine (T4).
Synthroid is one of the most common hypothyroid medications on the market today and is made by the pharmaceutical company Abbott. It's not horribly expensive when compared to so many other necessary medications that may run people hundreds of dollars per month.
In the U.S., the brand name Synthroid medication typically costs about $50.00 for a one-month supply in the 200 mcg dose. A generic version is sometimes available (depending on supply), which costs a bit less — about $30.00. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we have brand-name Synthroid for about one-third the cost. You can get a 90-day supply of the 200 mcg dose for about $33.00.
Levoxyl is similar to Synthroid. It's about $50.00 for a one-month supply in the 200 mcg dose (about $1.67 per pill). At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we offer a 200 mcg dose of Levoxyl for about $127.00 for a 100-day supply (about $1.27 per pill). Generics are sometimes available.
The other very common medication based on the active ingredient levothyroxine is Tirosint,. Of these three variations of levothyroxine, it's the most expensive by a significant margin.
A 30-day supply of a 150mcg dose of Tirosint typically costs about $172.00 in the U.S. (about $5.73 per pill). At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we can offer a 150 mcg dose for about $137.00 for a 28-count pill pack (about $4.89 per pill)
The reason there are so many variations of the same active ingredient is simply that some people react better to some medications than others. Each formulation is slightly different and will contain varying filler ingredients, which can bother some people, but not others. For example, if someone is allergic to an ingredient in Levoxyl, they could try Synthroid to see if it works better for them — or vice versa — if their doctor approves.
Liothyronine is another active ingredient in hypothyroid medication. It's a synthetic hormone that replaces the hormones that the thyroid should be creating, but isn't. This replaces triiodothyronine (T3).
The most common brand name for this hormone is called Cytomel. This brand name drug can run Americans about $3.20 per 25 mcg pill, which makes a 100-day supply about $320.00. However, at NorthWestPharmacy.com, we have Cytomel for about $1.95 per 25 mcg pill, making a 100-day supply far more affordable ($195.00).
Liothyronine is available in generic form at a slightly reduced price. NorthWestPharmacy.com has generic liothyronine for about $1.16 per 25 mcg pill, bringing the 100-day supply total to about $116.00.
Liotrix was sold under the brand name Thyrolar but is no longer made by the manufacturer. The major difference with this drug was that it replaced both T3 and T4 hormones. It can still be found on lists of common thyroid drugs, which is why it's included here, but it's important to note that it is no longer a viable option.
Natural Thyroid (ARMOUR THYROID, Thyroid, Westhroid)
Natural thyroid replacement hormones are typically derived from porcine (pig) thyroids. The glands are dried and then used to create pills that humans can take to supplement the hormones people with hypothyroidism are missing. Some people prefer a natural thyroid product like this because the hormone isn't synthetic. However, like any other prescription medication, there are fillers and buffers included in the formula. In this case, it's often cornstarch, magnesium stearate, sugar and talc. It's also worth noting that natural thyroid cannot be classified as vegan because it's derived from animals.
While there are a handful of different brand name manufacturers, the most popular is ARMOUR THYROID, which is made by Forest Pharmaceuticals. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we have access to a very similar product called Thyroid by a Canadian manufacturer called ERFA. We sell a 100-day supply of the 30 mg dose of Thyroid from ERFA for about $41.00. In the U.S. a 30-day supply of the same dose of ARMOUR THYROID will cost about $33.00.
The opposite of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid produces an overabundance of hormones — too much for the body to handle. There are multiple methods of treatment, including the previously mentioned radiation and removal. However, for people who are not well-suited for these procedures, there is medication available. As with hypothyroid medication, people who require such hyperthyroid medication are unlikely to be able to stop taking them.
Propylthiouracil (abbreviated to PTU)
Propylthiouracil is more affordable than many medications because there is a generic widely available. Even so, it's still much cheaper through international online pharmacies than it is in the United States. Typically, a 50 mg dose of PTU can be found for about $33.00 for a 30-day supply. However, NorthWestPharmacy.com sells the same dosage for just $31.00 — for a 100-day supply.
Methimazole is another active ingredient that slows down the production of hormones made by the thyroid gland. Brand name Tapazole is more difficult to find in the U.S. now that there is a generic readily available (because insurance companies will automatically default to a generic due to the lower price).
If you should require the name brand medication because the generic doesn't work as well with your condition, NorthWestPharmacy.com sells it at a very reasonable price — about $49.00 for a 100-day supply at the 5 mg dose.
Cost and Dosage
As with any other medication, the cost varies depending on the required dosage. Prescribed dosage is always important, but with any kind of hormone-replacement medication, it's particularly critical. Each person's body will be producing a different amount of the hormone, as well as requiring a different amount for proper daily functioning, which means that the medication should only be replacing what the body needs — and not a microgram more.
The cost variance across dosage also varies based on the brand. For example, the price difference between the smallest dose of Synthroid (0.25 mg) and the largest dose (0.300 mg) is only about $10.00 at NorthWestPharmacy.com. Similarly, the price difference between the smallest dose of Levoxyl (25 mcg) and largest dose (200 mcg) is only about $13.00.
By contrast, the price of Tirosint actually decreases with higher dosage. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we offer a 28-day supply of the lowest dose of Tirosint (13 mcg) for about $150. However, the same supply at the highest dose (150 mcg) is $136.00.
Again, the price according to dosage will vary according to the drug in question, as well as the manufacturer and current demand for the medication.
Additional Uses for Thyroid Medication
While it's easy to think that thyroid medication is only used for simple issues, such as hypo- or hyperthyroidism, there are many medical conditions that involve thyroid imbalances that affect more than just this vital gland. However, the treatment to address the thyroid-specific portion of each condition is often similar — the hormone imbalance must be addressed via synthetic replacements, or drugs that slow hormone production down.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid. In this case, the disorder doesn't allow the thyroid to make the amount of hormones required for the body to maintain itself, and hypothyroid medication would likely be prescribed.
Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes the thyroid to go into overdrive, creating too many hormones for the body to handle. When this happens, one of two things is usually done to treat the hyperactive thyroid — either antithyroid medications are administered, or the thyroid is taken out of the picture entirely (via removal or radiation). If the thyroid is removed or radiated, the patient typically needs hypothyroid medication to replace the hormones the body is not getting from the gland.
Nodules can form on the thyroid, which can result in symptoms that are similar to both hypo-and hyperthyroidism. They're typically noncancerous and aren't necessary to remove, but sometimes they cause enough problems that radiation or removal of the gland is necessary, and in those cases, medication is used for the same reasons as listed above for Hashimoto's and Graves' disease.
These circumstances also apply in the case of a goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Treatment is not given until it begins to cause symptoms that are disruptive.
Finally, thyroid cancer can cause disruptions in the regular function of the gland, and how the cancer is treated typically determines what medications are given after the fact. In many cases, the gland is radiated or removed, in which case, hormone therapy must be administered via hypothyroid medication.
How Americans Can Get More Affordable Thyroid Medication
Thyroid conditions are quite common in the United States — hypothyroidism is considered to be "very common" and hyperthyroidism is considered "common." What this means is that millions of people will be in need of these medications, and many of them will struggle to afford the medication their doctor prescribes.
While some of these medications are available in generic form (and will therefore be more affordable), not all of them are. Furthermore, each person's body will react differently to medication, and a generic that works for one person may not work for another. Because thyroid medication is quite literally changing a person's hormone balance, it's very important to find the right drug.
At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we take an enormous amount of pride in knowing that we can help people get medication they need to live full lives at a much more affordable price. We don't want anyone to have to choose between paying their electric bill or getting necessary medication. In fact, we're so committed to providing access to affordable medication that we offer a lowest price guarantee — if you find a lower price elsewhere, we'll beat it.
Check out our frequently asked questions, which may give you answers you're looking for. If you still have questions, feel free to contact us today. For your convenience, we have a toll-free phone number: 1-866-539-5330. We're happy to walk you through the ordering process and address any concerns you may have.