"Disease mongering" claim as testosterone prescribing soars
TESTOSTERONE is being prescribed inappropriately in Australia, driven by drug company marketing, experts say.
Professor David Handelsman, director of the ANZAC Research Institute at the University of Sydney, found total annual expenditure on testosterone products rose nine-fold over the past 20 years to $12.7 m a year, based on PBS data.
Spending had surged since 2006, driven by the introduction of two new testosterone products, a depot injectable testosterone and a transdermal testosterone gel, he said.
Increased prescribing could be not explained solely by increased diagnosis of Klinefelter syndrome but prescribing was likely increasing for non-approved indications such as so-called andropause and male sexual dysfunction, he said.
Quality use of medicines expert Dr Agnes Vitry, from the University of South Australia, said drug companies were engaging in “disease mongering” noting their public pitches suggesting testosterone could improve vague symptoms such as grumpiness and low libido.
Dr Vitry and co-author Barbara Mintzes from the University of British Columbia, Canada, said that testosterone treatment had not been shown to improve quality of life in people with age-related testosterone decline and that testosterone therapy may expose men to adverse effects.
Andrology Australia, whose board includes Professor Handelsman, said the male menopause was a myth and testosterone was being over-used as an “anti-ageing tonic”.
Med J Aust 2012; 196:619-21;642-45