The New York Times reports that pharmaceutical companies are heavily advertising their drugs for low testosterone. In the view of many physicians, that is in large part an invented condition. Last year, drug makers in the United States spent $3.47 billion on advertising directly to consumers, according to FiercePharma.com. And while ever-present ads like those from AbbVie Pharmaceuticals have buoyed sales of testosterone gels, that may be bad for patients as well as the United States’ $2.7 trillion annual health care bill, experts say.
Once a niche treatment for people suffering from hormonal deficiencies caused by medical problems like endocrine tumors or the disruptive effects of chemotherapy, the prescription gels are increasingly being sold as lifestyle products, to raise dipping levels of the male sex hormone as men age. “The market for testosterone gels evolved because there is an appetite among men and because there is advertising,” said Dr. Joel Finkelstein, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School who is studying male hormone changes with aging. “The problem is that no one has proved that it works and we don’t know the risks.”
The gels are of questionable medical benefit for many of the millions of men who now take them, he and other doctors say, and their side effects may well prove dangerous. “These medicines come with a risk of coronary artery disease,” Dr. Topol said. A recent study found that testosterone replacement therapies can also increase the risk of heart attack, death and stroke by just under 30%.
If you or a loved one have suffered a heart attack or stroke after using a testosterone replacement therapy, like AndroGel, Androderm, Testim or Axiron, please call our office for a free consultation.