GROWTH HORMONE THERAPY
Hormones are chemical messengers produced in one part of the body that travel to another part of the body to create some sort of change. Growth hormone is made in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain and is very important in helping children grow.
When growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland, it makes the liver release a second hormone called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Together, growth hormone and IGF-1 tell the bones, muscle and many other organs and tissue to grow by adding more cells. The growth of the bones also requires bone cells to add minerals such as calcium and phosphate, which results in bones that are strong and long.
Norditropin® is a man-made form of growth hormone called "recombinant human growth hormone." Although it’s made in a lab, it is identical to the growth hormone your body makes.
Norditropin® is indicated for the treatment of growth failure due to growth hormone deficiency in children. It is also indicated to help children with short stature due to Noonan syndrome or Turner syndrome grow taller. And it is approved to help children with short stature born small for gestational age who did not experience catch-up growth by the time they were 2-4 years of age. Norditropin® is also indicated in adults who do not make enough growth hormone.
GROWTH HORMONE DEFICIENCY
A child’s growth is not just about how tall they are going to end up as adults. Growth in children is a very important sign of their overall health. So when a child is not growing as he or she should, it could be a sign of some underlying health problem. Some health problems that may affect a child’s growth could be nutritional in nature or they could have one of many different genetic disorders. Because there is such a range of possibilities, it is important that a child’s height is measured often. That way if any problems do come up they can be identified and taken care of early.
A deficiency means there is not enough of something. Growth hormone deficiency means just that, your body is not making enough growth hormone.
Lack of treatment for growth hormone deficiency could result in a child’s being significantly shorter than they would otherwise be when they reach adulthood. Adults who are not treated for GHD may have changes in the body such as weakening of bones, decrease in amount of muscle, and increase in fat and cholesterol.
Usually an endocrinologist (a doctor who specializes in the study of the hormone system in your body) will be able to tell if you have growth hormone deficiency. The doctor will ask many questions about your health and growth history and about the health and growth history of your family. You will have a physical exam. They may also order a growth hormone stimulation test, or "stim" test.
There are different types of growth hormone stimulation tests. Some are able to measure the level of growth hormone when it is at its highest level, for example, after sleep or exercise, because both of these activities increase the level of growth hormone. Another type of test uses a medicine to make the pituitary gland release growth hormone. If the pituitary does not produce growth hormone in response to this "stimulation," it is a sign that the person has a deficiency.
There are several organizations dedicated to education, awareness, and advocacy for people with growth-related disorders. Take a look at the Patient Advocacy Groups.
No; the only delivery devices for Norditropin® are our FlexPro® pen and NordiFlex® pens. With Norditropin®, you never have to deal with a typical syringe.
Growth hormone is produced by the body every single day, with most being produced at night. Taking injections every day keeps the level of growth hormone steady, so it is closest to how the body normally works. Your doctor will prescribe the right amount you will need to keep a steady level in your body. Remember, it’s important to take your medication just the way you were told in order for it to work the best.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose. Just take the next dose at your regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time unless your health care provider tells you to.
It is important to take Norditropin® exactly as the doctor has directed. If you take too much, tell your doctor right away.
The most important thing to remember is to take your injection exactly the way your doctor or nurse tells you to. Eating well-balanced meals and getting plenty of exercise are also important for staying healthy.
How long a patient is treated with Norditropin® depends upon their individual circumstances. Talk with your health care professional about how long the course of therapy will last in your specific situation.
Norditropin® is a specialized medicine; it’s not something you’ll go down to the corner drug store to pick up. Instead, your prescription will be fulfilled through a Specialty Pharmacy and shipped to you.
A Specialty Pharmacy is a pharmacy with expertise in specific medical conditions, such as growth hormone deficiency, and focuses specifically on medications related to those conditions.
DEVICE & STORAGE
Norditropin® pens are designed to be easy to learn to use. FlexPro® is designed to be easy to hold, and requires little thumb reach, making it easier to give yourself an injection. A simple "click" tells you that the medicine has left the pen. Once you hear the click, leave the needle in the skin for six seconds and then withdraw it.
Norditropin® pens come refrigerated and each one must be kept that way until it is used the first time. After that, they can be stored outside of the refrigerator for up to 21 daysa (or in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks) so you can take them almost anywhere you're going.
aAll Norditropin® products must be refrigerated prior to first use. Do not freeze. After initial use, Norditropin® pens can either be stored outside of the refrigerator (up to 77°F [25°C]) for use within 3 weeks, or in the refrigerator (between 36°F and 46°F [2°C and 8°C]) for use within 4 weeks.
FlexPro® and NordiFlex® pens come premixed and preloaded, so you have two less things to worry about.
Growth hormone breaks down immediately when it spoils. Look at the medicine through the window on the pen. If it appears cloudy or discolored, call your Specialty Pharmacy or NordiCare® to inquire further. If it appears clear, and you’ve followed all storage requirements and precautions regarding handling of the pen, the medication has not spoiled and is safe to use.
Norditropin® pens use NovoFine® needles, which are the thinnest needles on the market. They’re not like some of the needles you may be used to seeing at the doctor’s office. Our thinnest NovoFine® needle in the United States is 32 gauge at the tipa,b
aNeedles are sold separately and may require a prescription in some states.
bNeedles and FlexPro® must not be shared. Always use a new needle for each injection.
GROWTH & TREATMENT EXPECTATIONS
Usually you see the greatest results within the first year, but it might also take 6 months before you see an increase in growth rate. Also, there tends to be greater catch up growth with patients who start at a younger age. However, individual results may vary, so you should check with your doctor.
That depends on many factors, including the patient’s target height, which is based on the height of his or her parents. Some studies have shown that the earlier a patient starts, the better they respond to treatment. However individual results may vary, so you should check with your doctor.
Not everyone stays on growth therapy for the same length of time. It depends on what your doctor thinks is best for you. Your doctor or nurse can best answer this question for you. It is important that you don’t stop taking your growth hormone until your doctor says it is time.
HISTORY OF NORDITROPIN®
Norditropin® was approved for use in the United States in 1995. Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Norditropin®, is a trusted leader in endocrinology. Novo Nordisk has done drug research and development for 90 years, with 40 of those years focused in the growth hormone arena around the world.
The safety profile of Norditropin® has been established in many clinical studies conducted around the world. In fact, one of our studies followed patients for up to 13 years. The most common side effects of Norditropin® include headaches, muscle pain, joint stiffness, high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), sugar in your urine (glucosuria), swollen hands and feet due to fluid retention, and redness and itching in the area you inject.
These are not all the possible side effects of Norditropin®.
Norditropin® can cause serious side effects, including: high risk of death in people who have critical illnesses because of heart or stomach surgery, trauma or serious breathing (respiratory) problems; high risk of death in children with Prader-Willi syndrome who are severely obese or have breathing problems including sleep apnea; return of tumor or cancerous growths; high blood sugar (hyperglycemia); increase in pressure in the skull (intracranial hypertension); swollen hands and feet due to fluid retention; decrease in thyroid hormone levels; hip and knee pain or a limp in children (slipped capital femoral epiphysis); worsening of pre-existing curvature of the spine (scoliosis); middle ear infection, hearing problems or ear problems in patients with Turner syndrome. Patients with Noonan syndrome and Turner syndrome should be closely monitored by their doctors as they are more likely to have congenital heart disease.
For more information, ask your health care provider or pharmacist. For full Prescribing Information click here.
Call your health care provider for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects to Novo Nordisk at 1-888-NOVO-444 (1-888-668-6444).
Novo Nordisk, the maker of Norditropin®, offers several different ways to help patients get, and stay on, therapy. These include NordiSure™, a co-pay assistance program that covers up to $125 of your co-pay each month; the Patient Access Program (PAP), which provides free product to eligible patients that show financial need; and JumpStart™, which provides free Norditropin® at the beginning of therapy, or in special circumstances later in therapy, to make sure patients receive treatment. Some of these programs have strict eligibility requirements. Call your NordiCare® Case Manager (1-888-NOVO-444 or 1-888-668-6444) to find out whether you qualify.
No, NordiCare® is a free program, and our Case Managers are dedicated to helping you deal with insurance and financial matters and stay on therapy. You do not have to pay for the service.
Individual insurance plans vary. If your pen should become lost or damaged and you need a replacement, the JumpStart™ program might be able to help you if it’s not covered by your insurance. Call your Case Manager to see whether you’re eligible for assistance in situations like this.