PATIENTS have been left without a life-changing drug due to price increases.

Liothyronine (T3), a medicine that helps those suffering with underactive thyroids, has risen in price by more than 1,500 per cent since 2009.

Because of the increases, prescriptions of T3 have slowed to a trickle in Brighton and Hove.

Only one prescription of the revolutionary drug was given out in May, compared with 55 in June 2014.

As the medicine is only prescribed for two rare conditions, many patients with thyroid problems must pay as much as £275 for a packet of 28 tablets.

Advanz Pharma, which manufactures the drug, is currently under investigation by the Government for charging “excessive and unfair prices”.

Mary Saunders, who suffers from an underactive thyroid, said she must buy liothyronine abroad because it is too expensive in Brighton. The 63-year-old said: “In Greece I can get a packet of pills for 1.20 euros.

“That would cost £204 for me in the UK, and that’s 28 pills compared to the 30 I can get abroad.

“That’s the really frustrating part, it costs so little outside of the UK but the price is inflated here.

“They’re leaving us to suffer. Imagine if the NHS did this to people who had diabetes.”

Ms Saunders, from Peacehaven, said liothyronine has made a “huge difference” to her life.

“ I used to suffer from acid reflux all the time and now it’s gone,” she said.

“Before T3 I would often gain weight very easily despite leading a healthy lifestyle and exercising all the time.

“I was living a half-life.

“Since I started taking T3 I’ve lost one stone and have been able to keep it off.”

Thyroid Trust director Lorraine Williams called the fall in prescriptions “shocking”.

She said: “A lot of people have different experiences with underactive thyroid, but some can’t even function without T3.

“When I was very ill, I couldn't even hold a conversation, my brain was so slow.

“I was lucky, I personally didn't need T3, but it is vital for some patients and those who need it should not be denied it.”

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The area prescribing committee is aware of NHS guidance on liothyronine.

“The committee has agreed further information is required to understand the economic impact of changing our current position.”