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IROs Help Determine Medical Necessity of Growth Hormone Therapy
Date:4/14/2009

LANSDALE, Pa., April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the human growth hormone (HGH) industry approaches $2 billion a year. It claims benefits for enhancing athletic performance, anti-aging and stimulating growth. Unfortunately, many of these remain unproven says NAIRO, trade association of independent review organizations (IROs) whose members see daily requests from health plans asking about the medical necessity of growth hormone therapies (www.nairo.org).

Because of its dangers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tightly controls HGH and prohibits doctors from prescribing it for any use the agency has not specifically approved. For example, if doctors prescribe the drug to enhance athletic performance or reverse aging they are breaking the law.

"There's much confusion about growth hormone therapy, even among healthcare professionals," said Joyce Muller, NAIRO president. "Health plans wanting to determine the approved uses and standard of care for the drug should consult an IRO."

Limited Approval for Children

The FDA has approved HGH for children to treat rare genetic conditions, such as Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) or Pituitary Dwarfism where it has shown therapeutic benefits. In all cases, HGH treatment requires the assistance of a pediatric endocrinologist. Although it has some rare side effects, treatment with synthetic (recombinant) HGH is generally safe. FDA approved uses include idiopathic short stature, growth-hormone deficiency, and chronic kidney disease.

Anti-aging and Performance Enhancement Unproven

In 2002, the National Institute on Aging sponsored the most comprehensive single study on the anti-aging effects of HGH. It discovered marginal benefits and significant side effects. It warned that HGH should be limited "to controlled research studies" and not widely prescribed.

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SOURCE NAIRO
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