Testosterone Use- Critics Blame DTC
“A dose of personal responsibility is needed, not hammering the advertiser.”
The DTC critics have a new target and testosterone replacement is this week’s story. There has been rapid growth of male hormone replacement sales more than doubling since 2006. A Bloomberg story from May 2 has received a lot of play in newspapers and websites. The story titled “Testosterone Chases Viagra in Libido Race as Doctors Fret” basically calls attention to the risks as the title indicates the concern of doctors.
The tone is negative and clearly leaves one with the impression that this drug is over-used and DTC is a factor. Abbott has run its Low T campaign and a branded ad for Androgel. Lilly just came out with Axiron, a deodorant like stick containing testosterone. The article quotes one patient saying “Am I making a deal with the devil…” referring to using testosterone.
The drug company spokespeople are quoted saying the drug is being advertised for men diagnosed with low testosterone levels, not for healthy men who want to boost their manliness. What bothers me about these negative articles is that low testosterone is a real medical issue affecting quality of life for millions of men. Do critics suggest drug companies not advertise to call awareness to the problem just because some muscle head will abuse the drug? Advertising is not the cause of overuse. Overuse results when patients and willing doctors go way beyond approved indications. Yes, I admit there are men with normal testosterone who want to use these drugs to get buff or increase sex drive.
DTC ads make men aware of the problem and the possible solution for this real medical condition using an FDA approved therapy. We cannot expect the drug maker to take responsibility for misuse. The ads clearly spell out the risks and side effects as mandated by FDA. Irresponsible doctors who give these hormone supplements out to men with normal levels are the problem. Patients who stupidly risk increased cancer risk to regain libido of their teen years are the problem.
Abuse of prescription drugs is a problem. No doubt pain meds, sleeping pills, anxiety drugs get abused. The issue is real and serious. The solution is not to ban information on these drugs. Many people have legitimate needs for these life altering drugs. Punish the violators who prescribe and take these drugs for illegitimate reasons, not the manufacturer.
Alcohol ads glamorize drinking, casino ads encourage gambling, car ads show fast driving, and fast food ads encourage eating fatty fries. We do not restrict commercial speech because some consumers go overboard in consumption. A dose of personal responsibility is needed, not hammering the advertiser. While many want the government to restrict ads for things they deem harmful, that is a slippery slope. Free markets are flawed and consumers get convinced to buy things that may hurt them health or money wise. That is the by-product of a capitalist society. We get more benefits than harm from a free flow of truthful ads. I’d take our current system any day over a government that controls what they want us to hear from lawful product advertisers.
Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.