Thursday, June 20, 2013

Testosterone Prescriptions Going Up, But Why?

My opinion:  The article doesn't seem to mention that testosterone levels have been decreasing in recent years.  Thus, there could be multiple reasons for an increase in testosterone prescriptions and it is difficult to tell which are the most prominent.  I think it woudl be easier to tell if more data was collected.  So far, we know that 25% of users didn't have their testosterone checked before getting their prescriptions.  Therefore, it is likely that drug advertisments are affecting at least 1/4 of men who get prescriptions.  Furthermore, we don't know for sure how many of the 75% qualified for the therapy.  And even if some of them have low levels of testosterone, perhaps they aren't low enough that drug treatment is necessary.  Though I do think many men actually have these health issues, I'm upset that marketing campaigns are taking advantage of some individuals.  And when the causes of low testosterone levels are often uncertain, then it is more difficult to know the best possible treatment - ads can't help in these cases.  Perhaps by thinking about ads and health news separate, it will become easier to pinpoint and eliminate the misconceptions.  Feel free to comment.



GALVESTON, Texas — Prescriptions for testosterone therapy have increased significantly during the last 10 years, according to a study in the current issue of JAMA Internal Medicine conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

About 50 percent of the men in the study who had received testosterone therapy had been diagnosed as having hypogonadism, a condition where a man is unable to produce the normal levels of testosterone.

But the study also found that, among new users of a prescription androgen product, about 25 percent did not have their testosterone levels tested before starting the treatment.  In addition, it’s unclear what proportion of the 75 percent who were tested had a low level of testosterone.

Dr. Jacques Baillargeon, lead author of the study and an associate professor in preventive medicine and community health at UTMB, said that he believes this is the first national population-based study of testosterone-prescribing patterns.   Using data from one of the nation’s largest commercial health insurance populations, the researchers looked at more than 10 million men age 40 and over. They found that testosterone therapy increased more than threefold, from 0.81 percent in 2001 to 2.91 percent in 2011 in men over 40.  By 2011, 2.29 percent of men in their 40s and 3.75 percent of men in their 60s were taking some form of testosterone therapy. 

“This trend has been driven, in large part, by direct-to-consumer marketing campaigns that have targeted middle-aged men and the expansion of clinics specializing in the treatment of low testosterone — or ‘low-T centers,’" said Baillargeon. 

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