Health Ministry promises improved supervision

After faulty dealing found with thyroid drug, Health Ministry set to establish website for reports on Eltroxin side effects.

Eltroxin  311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Eltroxin 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Health Ministry will establish a website to receive reports of side effects from Eltroxin, the drug for hypothyroidism that an independent investigative committee found underwent changes in its composition and caused side effects in some 800 Israelis.
The ministry said that a unit would be established in its pharmaceutical division for improved follow-up of imported drugs and side effects they have caused.
The committee’s report found faulty functioning of the ministry and of the companies involved in the import and marketing of the drug in Israel. The changed composition of the drug – without the company and the ministry informing doctors and the public – affected mostly women from the age of 50 suffering from poor functioning of their thyroid glands.
Eltroxin was originally made by Glaxo- SmithKline, but it was then transferred to Aspen in Germany, and Perrigo Israel marketed it here. When the formula was changed somewhat in 2010, side effects such as depression, hair loss, sleepless and irregular heartbeat were observed around the world. But the Health Ministry here said that the changes were not significant and resulted partly from psychological effects due to foreign reports.
Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, a physician, charged the ministry with “failing to internalize its responsibility as a regulator and instead blaming doctors.”
The results of the investigatory committee’s report show that even after the Remedia baby formula fiasco [in which the ministry did not warn the public about the lack of a vital B vitamin that caused deaths and permanent damage in infants fed exclusively with the soy-based product], the ministry has not learned its lesson, Adatto said.
She asked for an urgent meeting of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee to discuss the issue.