A new drug has been approved to raise calcium levels in patients with low thyroid conditions.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Natpara, a once-daily parathyroid hormone replacement injection, for patients with hypoparathyroidism whose calcium levels can't be controlled on calcium supplementation or with active forms of vitamin D.
The parathyroid gland regulates calcium. Hypothyroidism is an uncommon condition that occurs as the result of surgical removal of the parathyroid gland, or more rarely as a result of autoimmune or congenital diseases.
Patients with hypoparathyroidism can experience numbness, tingling, muscle twitching, spasms or cramps, abnormal heart rhythm, and seizures as a consequence of low blood calcium levels. It is also associated with long-term complications such as kidney damage, kidney stones, cataracts and calcification of soft tissues.
Natpara was evaluated in a clinical trial of 124 participants who were randomly assigned to receive Natpara or a placebo. Results showed 42 percent of Natpara-treated participants achieved normal blood calcium levels on reduced doses of calcium supplements and active forms of vitamin D, compared to three percent of placebo-treated participants.
The drug carries a boxed warning that bone cancer (osteosarcoma) has been observed in rat studies with Natpara. The drug is only recommended for patients whose low calcium condition cannot be controlled on calcium supplementation and active forms of vitamin D, and for whom the potential benefits are considered to outweigh this potential risk.
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