Growth Hormones: Uses, most common brand names, and safety information
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Growth hormone (GH), or somatotropin was first isolated from the human pituitary gland in 1956. Two years later, a clinical trial showed growth hormones’ positive effects on growth. For 30 years, it was primarily used in GH-deficient pediatric patients. After reports of a fatal, degenerative brain disorder called Creuzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD), the FDA stopped the production and distribution of pituitary-derived growth hormone in 1985.
In 1981, Genentech developed the first recombinant human growth hormone. Because of the withdrawal of natural growth hormone products, the FDA quickly approved this new synthetic growth hormone in 1985.
The list below includes growth hormones approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and their pricing:
List of Growth Hormones
Genotropin is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Genotropin MiniQuick (somatropin)
Genotropin MiniQuick is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Humatrope is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Norditropin FlexPro (somatropin)
Norditropin FlexPro is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Norditropin NordiFlex (somatropin)
Norditropin NordiFlex is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Nutropin AQ (somatropin)
Nutropin AQ is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Nutropin AQ NuSpin (somatropin)
Nutropin AQ NuSpin is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Omnitrope is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Saizen is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Serostim is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Zomacton is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
Zorbtive is indicated to treat growth hormone deficiency, short-bowel syndrome, and HIV-associated wasting.
What are growth hormones?
Human growth hormone (HGH) is produced by the pituitary gland, which is a pea-sized endocrine gland at the base of the brain below the hypothalamus. It is responsible for building bones and for the growth of muscles, organs, and connective tissue in children and adolescents. It also plays a role in metabolism in adults. There are several factors that can cause growth hormone deficiency (GHD). Genetic factors are the primary reason in children while damage to the pituitary is a common cause in adults. It is treated by growth hormones that have been produced by recombinant DNA technology.
How do growth hormones work?
The growth hormone made by your pituitary is responsible for stimulating muscle, bone, and organ growth in children. When children and adolescents don’t make enough growth hormones, it can lead to small body mass and a much shorter than normal adult height.
GH therapy is used to increase growth hormone levels to correct this GH deficiency. They are typically given by subcutaneous or intramuscular injection. Growth hormones bind to GH receptors to stimulate the production of somatomedins or insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in your liver and other tissues. IGF-1 is responsible for an increase in cartilage, soft tissue, and bone growth. Results from growth hormone therapy are sometimes seen in as little as 2 weeks but it can take up to 6 months before you realize any height differences.
What conditions are growth hormones used to treat?
Growth hormones are a class of prescription drugs used in the treatment of:
- Genetic growth hormone deficiency
- Acquired growth hormone deficiency (pituitary tumor or trauma)
- Short stature related to small birth weight or length
- Short stature from chronic kidney insufficiency
- Idiopathic short stature (unknown reasons)
- Short stature from various genetic disorders like Noonan Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, or homeobox-containing gene deficiency, Prader Willi Syndrome
Are growth hormones safe?
The use of growth hormones is relatively safe and effective when taken as prescribed. Before beginning growth hormone treatment, tell your doctor if you have any of the following medical conditions:
- Heart disease
- History of cancer
- Lung disease or obstruction
- Sleep apnea
- Thyroid disease
- Scoliosis (curving of the spine)
What are the common side effects of growth hormones?
The adverse effects you experience from growth hormones will depend on several factors including the medication and dose. The most common adverse effects include:
- Muscle aches
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Injection site reactions
Sometimes, growth hormones can cause more serious side effects, including:
- Serious allergic reaction
- Increased risk of cancer
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Acromegaly (enlarged face, hands, and feet)
- Fluid retention
- Worsening scoliosis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
This is not a complete list of side effects and we encourage you to consult with your healthcare provider or endocrinologist for medical advice about any possible side effects.
How long does it take growth hormones to work?
Although you may see some growth in the first few weeks, most children will grow 1 to 2 inches within the first 6 months of beginning GH treatment.
How long will my child take growth hormones?
Growth hormone therapy is a long-term treatment that is taken for years. Your child will typically take GH until they have reached their full adult height, reached full bone maturity, or have grown less than 2cm in the previous year.
How long do the effects of growth hormones last?
According to a clinical study, an increase in fat mass and percentage of body fat were seen in adults 6 months after stopping growth hormones. These changes remained 1 year after stopping GH treatment, although no significant changes occurred between 6 months and a year.
What happens when you come off of growth hormones?
Symptoms of growth hormone withdrawal include lack of energy, severe fatigue, pain, depression, and irritability.
How much do growth hormones cost?
Growth hormones are very expensive with an average cost of around $10,000 per year.
You can purchase Growth hormones for $49 per month from NiceRx if eligible for assistance. Prices at the pharmacy vary by location, strength, and quantity, as well as your insurance status.
Related resources for growth hormones
The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.