My name is Moyra Marshall and I am the Group Leader of Cumbria Advisory Thyroid Service (C.A.T.S.).

I am writing to you to draw readers' attention to a development within the NHS which is a concern to myself and many of the members of our group.

It is estimated that 2 in every 100 people suffer from a thyroid related condition but C.A.T.S. research considers this to be a somewhat conservative estimate with actual figures to be much higher.

In simple terms a patient can suffer from an ‘overactive’ thyroid condition or an ‘underactive’ thyroid condition. A functioning thyroid will store an amount of Thyroxine (T4) in the body and when needed naturally convert it to (T3) the active hormone the body uses. Under-active Thyroid patients are usually treated with the replacement hormone T4 (Thyroxine) which provides the body with the necessary missing hormones that the body does not produce naturally.

However, a small number of these patients still do not feel well as their body is unable to convert the T4 to T3 and therefore need to take an extra supplement of T3 (Liothyronine) as a sort of ‘extra’ boost for their body. This important hormone is needed for every single body function and if our levels start to fall we will become very ill.

Up until now any patients needing this extra treatment were given it from the NHS. Patients are now receiving letters from the NHS to tell them this treatment can no longer be provided.

Any patients that are affected by this ruling are being told that they will receive extra T4 to replace the T3 that has been stopped.

C.A.T.S. are concerned about this development as we said the reason for being given T3 in the first place, is because they can’t convert the T4 to T3.

The reason given by the NHS for this new ruling is the extortionate price rise from the drug companies plus not enough evidence to say it is beneficial to patients.

Through research carried out by C.A.T.S. we have ascertained that a private prescription may be requested through an Endocrinologist referral however pharmacists have quoted a cost of approximately £516 for a month’s supply of T3 medication.

Based on the need of 13 prescriptions throughout the year this amounts to over £6,000 per patient. I’m sure you will agree that this is an unreasonable amount of money to pay for potentially life-saving medication.

Many people are unable to justify such an outgoing in these times of austerity and C.A.T.S. are concerned that people will either go without medication or source it from disreputable sources on the internet.

C.A.T.S. has been running as a Thyroid support group for almost 20 years, and have seen a big improvement in the health of patients who use this treatment. Although we are based in Cumbria and know that this area is a hot spot for Thyroid problems we do not know just how many patients will be affected by this ruling.

Moyra Marshall

Group Leader of Cumbria Advisory Thyroid Service