The most commonly prescribed drug in the U.S. also may be one of the most overprescribed for older individuals. Levothyroxine is a medication used to treat low thyroid hormone levels. However, a study published this spring in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that patients with subclinical thyroid hormone levels received no benefit from the drug.
Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Dr. Juan Brito says, while some people genuinely need the hormone replacement to regulate metabolism and ward off health risks, most people taking it do not. Dr. Brito says each prescription should be accompanied by thorough follow-up care. “What is important is to engage the patient and the doctor, and make sure they have a reason to [take] it and a plan – what to do if symptoms don’t get better and what to do if the symptoms do get better.” Dennis Douda reports.