Propylthiouracil (PTU) is an anti-thyroid medication designed to treat patients with Graves’ disease. First introduced in 1947, the drug has been prescribed to thousands of patients across the U.S. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified healthcare professionals, June 3, 2009, of its dangerous health risks including liver failure and death.
FDA Warns Healthcare Professionals of PTU Injuries
The FDA warning follows evidence of 32 cases of PTU liver failure. Here are some facts:
- 32 confirmed PTU liver injuries
- 22 adult cases
- 10 pediatric injuries
- Of the 22 adults, there were 12 deaths and five liver transplants
- Of the 10 pediatric cases, there was one death and six liver transplants
In addition to liver failure, PTU has also been linked to other serious side effects, including:
- Lowered level of white and red blood cells and platelets which can cause infection, severe bleeding and anemia
- Lowered activity of the immune system
Among the more common and tolerable side effects are:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Chronic headaches
- Itching, skin rashes
- Hair loss
- Joint and muscle aches
Why Are Patients Prescribed PTU?
While there have been several reports of injury and death linked to the anti-thyroid medication, there has not yet been a PTU recall. In fact, for some patients PTU is the best treatment option. For instance, PTU is recommended for Graves’ disease patients who are allergic to the alternative medication, methimazole.
In addition to the treatment of Graves’ Disease, PTU is also used to decrease symptoms of hyperthyroidism in preparation for a surgical procedure to remove the thyroid gland.
The FDA has advised healthcare providers to keep a close watch on patients treated with PTU, especially during the first six months of treatment.
PTU Medication: What is Grave’s Disease?
Grave’s disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism. It occurs in patients whose own immune systems attack their thyroid gland causing it to overproduce the hormone thyroxine.
Grave’s Disease Symptoms
Some of the more common symptoms of Graves’ disease include:
- Anxiety, irritability
- Chronic fatigue
- Rapid heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Heat sensitivity
- Weight loss
- Frequent bowel movements
PTU Dosing and Drug Interaction Information
The dose of PTU will ultimately depend on several factors including the patient’s age and medical history; however, the initial dose (among adults) is typically 300 mg/day. The drug should be taken every 8 hours. Many long-term treatment programs consist of 100-150 mg/day following the initial treatment cycle.
It is important for patients who have been prescribed PTU to discuss all possible drug interactions with their doctor prior to beginning treatment. For instance, PTU use has been known to increase the effect of oral blood thinners such as wafrarin (Coumadin). Thus, dose changes and extra monitoring are necessary when combined with PTU.
If You Have Been Injured by PTU
Have you or a loved one been injured after taking PTU? If so, contact us to speak with an experienced PTU attorney who specializes in drug recall litigation & lawsuits. Let us help you win the compensation you need and deserve.