Thyroid Hormone Replacement
The goal of thyroid drug therapy is to provide the body with replacement thyroid hormone when the gland is not able to produce enough itself.
A synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine is the treatment of choice for hypothyroidism. This drug is a synthetic derivative of T4 (thyroxine), and it normalizes blood levels of TSH, T4, and T3.
Brand Names. A number of levothyroxine brands are available. Synthroid is the oldest brand and has been used for over 40 years. In the past, manufacturers of levothyroxine did not need to meet as strict standards as in the production of other drugs. This resulted in thyroid products with varying quality. The FDA has issued stronger requirements that have largely corrected this problem.
Generics versus Brand-Name Products. Generic brands are available and are subject to the same FDA guidelines as brand-name products. There is still debate over whether generic thyroid preparations are as effective as brand products.
Review Date: 05/03/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.