"In response to these reports, Medsafe has reassessed the change in Eltroxin formulation and can confirm that the new formulation satisfies all quality, safety, and bioequivalence criteria. In addition, all excipients and excipient quantities present in the new formulation are commonly used in medicines."GSK stated that
"extensive testing and retesting by GSK has shown that the tablets should be safe and effective when used as prescribed"However in response to my communications Medsafe refused to discuss what GSK's supposedly "extensive testing" was, the study design or the actual results - citing that the science "is commercial in confidence". Nor it seems were any of the data published in the scientific literature.
Now we have some information about these so called "extensive" tests, courtesy, not of usual science, but through response to a New Zealand parliamentary written question. Still no data, but it now seems that:
- Only 36 "test subjects" were studied.
- Studies lasted only 48 hours (perhaps long enough to determine bioavailability using measurements of T3 and T4 in blood - but in the absence of any details of study design or the actual results one cannot tell).
- It seems that "Almost 25% of the subjects experienced an adverse event when taking the new formulation of Eltroxin, compared to just 8% taking the standard formulation".
Member of Parliament Jackie Blue says "the authorities need to explain why this information did not ring alarm bells for them".
My questions would be more fundamental, regardless of the data. Why are we in this position in the first place, and what is the role of a scientific regulator?
See also the excellent Pharmalot on some aspects of this story