The following information comes from the Earl Gershenow of the Human Growth Foundation (http://www.hgfound.org) related to air travel and GH. Especially with all of the increased security of late, it would be wise to read and consider these suggestions. I was thinking of all of those of you who will be flying in to the walk and thought this might be helpful.
I. X-RAY EFFECT ON rGH
There is at least one study, by a non-rGH pharmaceutical organization (don’t presently have the citation), that demonstrates the new high-intensity x-rays will degrade rGH. Last time I checked, none of the rGH manufacturers had studied the issue. This information can be updated by contact your rGH manufacturer and obtaining hard copy of any pertinent information. Also, please let us know on the List.
II. TSAR GUIDANCE ON MEDICATIONS INVOLVING HIDDEN DISABILITIES
From the Transportation Security Administration at:
http://www.tsa.gov/public/display?theme=156, under “Hidden Disabilities,” is the following general guidance from TSA:
All medications in any form or type (for instance, pills, injectibles, or homeopathic) and associated supplies (syringes, Sharps disposal container, pre-loaded syringes, jet injectors, pens, infusers, etc.) are allowed through the security checkpoint once they have been screened.
Medications should be labeled so they are identifiable.
Medications in daily dosage containers are allowed through the checkpoint once they been screened.
Medication and related supplies are normally x-rayed. However, as a customer service, TSA now allows you the option of requesting a visual inspection of your medication and associated supplies.
You must request a visual inspection before the screening process begins, otherwise you medications and supplies will undergo x-ray inspection.
If you would like to take advantage of this option, please have you medication and associated supplies separated from your other property in a separate pouch/bag when you approach the screener at the walk-through metal detector.
Request the visual inspection and hand your medication pouch/bag to the screener.
In order to prevent contamination or damage to medication and associated supplies and/or fragile medical materials, you will be asked at the security checkpoint to display, handle, and repack your own medication and associated supplies during the visual inspection process.
Any medication and/or associated supplies that cannot be cleared visually must be submitted for x-ray screening. If you refuse, you will not be permitted to carry your medications and related supplies into the sterile area.
III. WHAT TO DO IN PREPARATION FOR AIR TRAVEL WITH rGH
1. Obtain and carry with you the original and a copy of a letter from your physician on his/her letterhead that states: [Your name and address] is a patient of mine who suffers from a growth disorder or growth hormone deficiency that requires, and for whom I have prescribed on a continuing basis, the use of FDA approved recombinant (biosynthetic) growth hormone (rGH). rGH is made from fragile proteins that can be destroyed by temperatures outside the range of 36 degrees F. to 46 degrees F. for more than a few minutes at a time; and, therefore, is carried in a cooling pack. The rGH may be contained in a vial accompanied by syringes and needles, or in cartridge accompanied by pen and into which it is inserted, which is contained in a carrying case, and needles. rGH may also be degraded or destroyed by the x-rays emanating from airport person and luggage scanners. Because of those factors and the medical necessity for daily use of the rGH, it (vial or cartridge) must not be scanned with x-ray, hand checked, and remain with the patient during travel. [Signed by physician; make sure you have the address and telephone number of the physician if it is not on the letterhead].
2. Carry copies of your prescription or any other authorization for its use.
3. Carry with you collapsed outer packaging and any prescription information thereon that identifies the rGH and you as the patient or parent and intended recipient of the rGH.
4. Carry with you a copy of the full prescribing information.
5. Carry with you picture identification that identifies you as the patient or parent and intended recipient of the rGH.
Caveat: Under all circumstances, keep you cool and decorum, else all your good efforts can be rendered ineffective.
III. WHAT TO DO AT THE AIRPORT
1. Before placing the rGH on the scanner conveyor belt, notify the TSA agent and request hand inspection of the rGH.
2. Provide any of the above information and documents requested.
3. Provide to the TSA agent the letter (or if you don’t have one, a copy of this message, which describes what rGH is and why it must not be scanned with the x-rays.
4. Answer any questions asked by the TSA agent.
5. If the TSA agent insists on having the rGH scanned, request to speak with a supervisor; and if not successful, ask to speak with the top TSA manager at the airport.
6. If all fails, your only recourse is to get off the flight and to overnight the rGH to your destination (if you will get their before the rGH gets there), or to give the rGH to an accompanying friend to overnight to you.
IV. WHAT TO DO AFTER ARRIVING AT YOUR DESTINATION
1. Contact TSA at 1-866-289-9673, complain, and ask to speak with a supervisor.
2. Go the TSA website (http://www.tsa.gov) and find out how to complain in writing.
3. Contact (a) your federal Congressman/woman, (b) your federal Senator, or (3) the Congressional oversight committee for TSA; and, complain.
4. If all else fails, consider contact The Washington Post to tell your story.
A Message to Transportation Safety Administration Personnel Operating or
Supervising the Operation of Airport Security Scanners: Possible Damage to
rhGH Upon Being Scanned by Enhanced Airport Security Scanners.
by Earl A. Gershenow on behalf of the Human Growth Foundation (April 16,
The question of possible damage to rGH from the enhanced airport security
scanners has arisen on more than than occasion on the HGF Internet Support
Lists. Below is information that you can provide to any airport
Transportation Safety Administration personnel who ask why your rGH needs to
be hand checked. (We use rGH to mean human recombinant hormone on the HGF
Internet Support Lists because it’s one less letter to type; and, we are
obviously discussing human, not some other kind of, recombinant growth
hormone. Below, the more precise acyronym, rhGH is used for others who may
read this message.)
Human growth hormone (hGH) is an essential hormone for growth and
development in children, and for physical and mental health in adults. hGH
is a polypeptide consisting of 191 amino-acid, 22-kd [kilodaltons] protein
with two intramolecular disulfide bonds, and 5-10% is a 20-kd form produced
by alternate splicing of the second coding exon that delete the codons or
amino acids 32 to 46 from the RNA. hGH is present in several different forms
in the anterior pituitary. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, 9th Ed., W.B.
Saunders (Philadelphia: 1998) at p. 256. Recombinant (biosynthetic) growth
hormone (rhGH) is identifical in its DNA sequencing and functioning to
natural growth hormone.
rhGH proteins are organic in source and in nature; and, are especially
fragile and sensitive to damage and destruction from environmental and other
and external sources from low-dose ions emitted from enhanced airport
security scanners. In seconds, the ionizing radiation can cause damage that
(1) breaks the DNA strands and causes oxidative damage, (2) affects the
potency of rhGHm, and (3) possibly can result in additional risks of injury
if injected into the human body. See the following articles, which can be
accessed on the internet at the following URLs:
In an article entitled “Do Airport X-rays Ruin Medicine?,” published by
NAPS:* on [date], it is stated: “New information indicates that exposure to
X-rays can potentially change the composition of organic compounds found in
medicines. According to physical chemist Dr. Selen Altunata, exposure from a
high-dose airport security X-ray scanner can cause up to a 25 percent
degradation in medications, depending on the length of the exposure and the
physical makeup of the medicine. The impact is even more likely with
homeopathic medicines. “Because homeopathic medicines contain minute amounts
of active ingredients they are more susceptible to being affected by
ionizing radiation from airport scanners, Altunata explained.”
http://www.napsnet.com/pdf_archive/109/55792.pdf. Because of the extreme
fragilitiy of the rhGH proteins, it is quite possible that more than 25%
degradation occurs in rhGH.
For the above reasons, and in the absence of any known studies that
demonstrate that the enhanced airport security scanners do not damage the
rhGH, and the harm to a child or adult, rhGH should not be subjected to the
ionizing radiation of an airport security scanner; but, should be hand
* NAPS (North American Precis Syndicate) distributes feature releases for
more than 750 companies, including Nokia, IBM, GM, and SINGER; nonprofit
associations, such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Boys Town USA; and
government agencies such as the Department of Transportation, and the
Centers for Disease Control. See http://www.napset.com