New Drug Treats Overactive Parathyroid Gland

Regulates minerals in the body

TUESDAY, March 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug in a new class of compounds designed to treat certain patients with hyperparathyroidism or parathyroid cancer.

The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized glands located on the thyroid gland in the neck. Though their names are similar, the thyroid and parathyroid glands are separate glands, each producing distinct hormones with specific functions. The parathyroid glands secrete parathyroid hormone (PTH), a substance that helps maintain the correct balance of calcium and phosphorous in the body.

If the glands secrete too much hormone, as in hyperparathyroidism, the balance is disrupted and blood calcium rises. Symptoms include mental confusion, fatigue, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and kidney damage.

In clinical trials involving more than 1,000 patients with chronic kidney disease, Amgen's Sensipar (cinacalcet) was proven effective in countering the effects of hyperparathyroidism, the FDA says.

In 85 percent of people with this disorder, a benign tumor has formed on one of the parathyroid glands, causing it to become overactive. In most other cases, the excess hormone comes from two or more enlarged parathyroid glands. In rare cases, hyperparathyroidism is caused by cancer of a parathyroid gland.

For more information about hyperparathyroidism, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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