Armour thyroid (Armour) is unlicensed in the UK for the treatment of hypothyroidism. It is natural porcine-derived thyroid replacement with 1 grain containing 38 mcg levothyroxine (T4) and 9 mcg L-triiodothyronine (T3), and unspecified amounts of T1, T2 and calcitonin. We have used Armour as a third line agent in selected patients who have not responded adequately to T4 monotherapy, and combination T4/T3 therapy since 2003.
Aim: To assess changes in symptoms of hypothyroidism in patients treated with Armour.
Methods: Forty patients (38 female) who had been prescribed Armour between 2005 and 2006 were identified using hospital Pharmacy records. A simple questionnaire was sent to these patients to assess changes to quality of life whilst they were taking Armour.
Results: Thirty-five patients (88%) returned the questionnaire. All patients had been prescribed either T4 and/or combination T4/T3 therapy before commencing Armour. Twenty-nine were still taking Armour at the time of the questionnaire. Three of these twenty-nine patients did not answer the quality of life questions, one of whom was unable to tolerate T4 and T3 due to nausea.
Of the patients still taking Armour, 72% found improvement in energy levels, 52% dry skin, 52% hair loss and 55% cold intolerance. There was no difference in constipation, arthragia, myalgia or ability to lose weight. Most patients (62%) had improvements in 3 or more symptoms of hypothyroidism.
In the 6 patients who were no longer taking Armour, there were no significant improvements in any parameter.
Conclusion: In appropriately selected hypothyroid patients, Armour appears to improve the quality of life in patients who have either had an inadequate clinical response to conventional T4/T3 therapy or are unable to tolerate such therapy.