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Testosterone Gels Get Big Ad Push, But Many Clinicians Believe 'Low T' Doesn't Exist — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
October 16, 2013

Testosterone Gels Get Big Ad Push, But Many Clinicians Believe 'Low T' Doesn't Exist

By Joe Elia

Pumped up by expansive ad budgets last year, testosterone gels generated over $2 billion in U.S. sales, the New York Times reports. One manufacturer spent $80 million advertising its gel.

Aimed at aging men, the ads offer a solution to something called "low T" — which many clinicians believe is an "invented condition," according to the Times.

One source, an endocrinologist, commented: "There is no such disease." Another, a cardiologist, asks patients presenting with self-described low T why they would even get tested, since "there isn't really a normal."

A drug company spokesman said their product advertising is educational and meant to encourage patients to talk with their physicians "to determine if testing and treatment may be appropriate."

Reader Comments (10)

Marc DeGennaro, DC Physician, Other, Charlottesville, VA

What about the range that is quoted by physicians?
what about hte patient who is well below the bottom part of that range?
I personally believe that yes, the pharmaceutical industry is taking advantage of this situation.
However, this situation is also being powered by the overuse of statins which is artificially lowering the necessary building block for testosterone.
Which big ad campaign came first, Lipitor or Cialis.....

Dr Colleen Hunsaker, DO Physician, Preventive Medicine, self-employed, Arizona

I wouldn't call it a "disease" either, but rather a condition.
When I see a man with a low testosterone, and the complete workup leads me to hypogonadism, I do treat and monitor closely.
It makes a HUGE difference in their lives at work and at home.

If say, thyroid hormone, or insulin levels got low, you'd treat. So would I.

Pasquale Di Biase, MD Physician, Gastroenterology, Regional Hospital A. Cardarelli - Campobasso, Italy

So far we don't have any proof of such a clinical situation.

Hassan Fayed Physician, Urology

I think that testesterone deficiency is not only exist but also it is a real problem in a lot of patients not only those with weak erection but also those elderly with dry skln that result in severe itching and affects quality of life. I agree that the real problem is the wery wide range of normal that make it dificult to clearly link the patient complaint to the measured testosterone level.

NICHOL IVERSON Physician, Internal Medicine, Multicare Puyallup

I think low T is high BS.
I am also "sic" and tired of two people sitting in 2 different bath tubs. At least the ads can be more interesting....

Jon Peterson, MD Physician, Emergency Medicine, Urgent Care

It baffles me how someone could claim that "low testosterone doesn't exist". Yes, there is a broad range of "normal", but the state of "lower than normal" is verifiable, and has predictable effects. The correction of low levels also has predictable effects, and they are predictably beneficial for a large number of men.

kim webster md Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice, portland oregon

My baseline assumption is that, although we have " normal ranges " for most of the tests we order there is really an optimal. The ludicrously large range of normal for testosterone gives me little guidance in determining if someone has an optimal level. However a good history, physical and labs can give me a clue if their level is optimal and then I can treat accordingly. We use HRT in women to improve the quality of life. I don't understand the reluctance to use the same paradigm in men.

HELEN HOLT Other Healthcare Professional, Palliative Medicine, rehab clinic

I am glad to see these comments. It seems strange that US health insurances all seem to pay for these unneeded drugs, when many areas have women fighting to get contraception paid for. Are we going back to the middle ages?? Stong men and submissive women...

Alfred D Kulik MD FACS Physician, Ophthalmology, NY-NJ

As to the "drug company spokesman" qouted answer responding to the "low-T" advertising query: "genius"!

George Horner MD FRCP(C) Pathology plus AMERICAN BOARDS AP&CP RETIRED Physician, Pathology, Clarenville Newfoundland Canada NOW RETIRED

I do not think Advts make a Diagnosis
Clinical signs and symptoms plus in this case Blood Levels
May. Its a Medical Diagnosis -DRs should not get their education or CME from Drug Company Advts Ridiculous theory!!!!!

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