Levoxyl Recall

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Recently Pfizer, the manufacturer of Levoxyl, has issued a national recall of all Levoxyl products from retail pharmacies. As of April 2013, pharmacies will no longer have any strengths of Levoxyl available. Here’s what you need to know:

What is Levoxyl?

 Levoxyl (levothyroxine) is used to treat low thyroid levels and to prevent certain types of goiters (an enlargement of the thyroid gland). Levoxyl is also available in its generic form, levothyroxine, or as other brands, such as Synthroid, Levothroid, and Unithroid.

With so many options, why does the recall matter?

Thyroid medications have a narrow therapeutic index (NTI), which means that any change in dose or formulation—including from one brand or generic to another—can lead to significant differences in how your body responds. Once you start one, you typically have to continue using the same prescription. Switching between brands should be done under your doctor’s supervision.

Why was the recall initiated?

The manufacturer ordered a voluntary recall after some patients and pharmacists complained about a “plastic-like” smell in some bottles. According to Pfizer’s official statement, the odor came from oxygen-absorbing canisters in the packaging and it was “not likely to cause any adverse health consequences.”

What should you do if you are taking Levoxyl?

If you currently are taking Levoxyl there is no need to discard or discontinue the medication. You should continue taking it as prescribed.

What if you need to fill your Levoxyl prescription?

Since Levoxyl isn’t currently available, you will need to switch to an alternative: the generic levothyroxine or another brand. You can ask your pharmacist to let your doctor know, or contact them directly. You may need a thyroid level test, or may be asked to follow up after changing medications. Any of the alternatives will still continue to act as a replacement for low thyroid levels, but you may also need dose adjustments and further assessment.

Will it cost you more?

Depending on which brand or generic you switch to, you could pay more or less.  Copays and prices will be different, especially if you move to generic levothyroxine. The price difference isn’t huge, but the generic is generally less expensive and part of many pharmacies’ generic discount programs. Ask your pharmacist to check what the difference might be for you.

When will it be available again?

Currently there is no date set for the return of Levoxyl to the market. Pfizer anticipates that it may not be available again until 2014.

More questions?

If you are taking Levoxyl and have more questions do not hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist; they can help you find a treatment that will work for you.

The GoodRx Pharmacist

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