Real Reasons To Prescribe Growth Hormone For Height?
It’s only recently – less than 10 years ago that the FDA made the decision to allow growth hormone for height increases to be given as a prescription.
The driving force was Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company, who had spent 15 years collecting data on how human growth hormone could benefit kids with a condition where they failed to grow.
That condition is technically called idiopathic short stature. The word “idiopathic” means no one knows the cause.
Here’s why Eli Lilly felt so compelled to do it:
1. If kids between the ages of 7 and 15 were lower than 1.2 percentile for height, they would be considered short. (Eli Lilly’s definition)
2. This would mean that 400,000 kids were ripe for the prescription. After all, who wants to be short, and be bullied?
3. In one trial, injections given three times a week for four years increased the height of 1-1/2 inches.
4. In a European trial, the injections increased height 2-1/2 inches but higher and more doses were used.
5. In 1985, a genetically-engineered version of the drug was given to about 200,000 patients worldwide without any safety concerns. There had been no serious or long-term side effects.
They had to convince the FDA about the answer to the question, Does growth hormone make you taller?
But what they never established was whether or not the kids benefited psychologically or if the $20,000 price tag per year was well worth it. The use of growth hormone for height wasn’t really proven to be clinically meaningful.
Perhaps The Question Is Whether Height Enhancement Is Ethical, And For Whom
Nevertheless, thousands of children have benefited although the FDA decision makes one wonder if the use of drugs for cosmetic reasons – the enhancement of height – is really that ethical.
Medical experts disagreed with the approval saying that it turned short stature into a disease.
Growth Hormone For Height Prescriptions Bring In Millions In Profit
In the next year after the FDA approval for the drug, growth hormone for height prescriptions went through the roof.
Here’s a little chart of the drug sales for the year 2004:
|Eli Lilly||$430 Million|
How Growth Hormone Was Discovered
Back in 1956, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine failed to obtain results in a young infant who wouldn’t grow when they used growth hormone that came from the pituitary gland of cows.
Two years later Tufts University scientists cracked the code when they used growth hormone from human cadavers.
It took 365 cadavers to treat one child for one year, according to Stephen Hall, author of Size Matters.
Soon a black market developed for the growth hormone, and by 1963, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine physician Robert M. Blizzard was appointed to oversee the National Hormone and Pituitary Program, started by the National Institutes of Health.
Isn’t There Something Wrong With Getting Growth Hormone From Cadavers?
But one can only wonder why tragedy didn’t strike for over a decade. Biblical scholars say that we have been given specific instructions in the Bible on how to live, many which include health.
One of the clearest instructions is on the immediate disposal of the body after death, not the reusing of organs. A dead man or dead animal is considered unclean. And apparently for a legitimate reason.
In 1985, 24 patients came down with a severe neurological disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a form of mad-cow disease.
The cause was contaminated growth hormone. This put a stop on all growth hormone for height prescriptions in both the U.S. and in Europe.
But Wait! Sales Can’t Stop! Someone Should Be The Provider
The company Genentech then came to the rescue and offered its genetically-engineered variety for free, but only for a year. After that, the price went up to $10,000 to $15,000 a year.
Human Growth Hormone: When To Stop Its Use Is The Question
Some experts in the field still question the effectiveness of human growth hormone for height. If they’re short, they’ll still be short after the treatment.
Is the modest height increase even worth it? How can it be proven that the growth hormone even made a difference compared to what might have happened without it?
The biggest ethical consideration applies for those who do attain normal height with growth hormone, and then continue to use it. Is this ethical? Is height becoming a biological option?
Question About Genetically Engineered Hormones
Conservative health advocates question the use of genetically-engineered anything, whether it’s food, drug, or even animals. And it’s just too early to tell what the damage could be.
You won’t know the answer to the question of does growth hormone make you taller unless you take it but there is another option.
Maybe we should go back to the drawing board and try to discover the real roots of why a person doesn’t grow tall instead of trying to force it to happen.