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Human Growth Hormone and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

SALVATORE RAITI, M.D.
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National Hormone and Pituitary Program, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Baltimore, Maryland


Ann Intern Med. 1985;103(2):288-289. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-103-2-288
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The decision of the National Institutes of Health on 19 April 1985 to suspend, temporarily, the distribution of human growth hormone and all other pituitary hormones for clinical research sent shock waves around the world and caused considerable dismay within the United States. The factors leading to this decision were simple, but the interpretation of their significance remains much more difficult.

One 21-year-old patient died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in November 1984. He had had neonatal hypothyroidism, became an insulin-dependent diabetic at 3 years of age, was shown to have hypopituitarism with hypoglycemia, and began receiving human growth hormone in 1966.

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