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Unregulated Low T Clinics Prescribe Testosterone as “Drug of the Future”

anxious man on beachTestosterone replacement therapy has been touted as the key to male vitality, enhanced libido and physical performance. After all, this powerful male hormone helps guys maintain muscle mass, sperm production and the all-important sex drive. Some four percent of men in their 60’s are taking testosterone supplements, according to a University of Texas.

The growing popularity of testosterone has enabled manufacturers like AbbVie – makers of Androgel – to garner more than a billion dollars in sales in one year alone. But it’s also opened the door for entrepreneurial clinics, which have suddenly popped up in strip malls across the nation. Here, doctors – many of whom never specialized in urology or endocrinology– offer “Low T” supplements to men who are yearning for the body, energy and sex drive they enjoyed in their 30s.

Testosterone viewed as a magic wand

“No matter what you consider a disease or condition, the fact remains that by the time you reach 40-45, virtually every man has lowering T. That’s a natural state of being as you slowly poop out. But we’re around a lot longer than that,” says Dr. Paul Campion, a former eye doctor who runs an anti-aging clinic in a tony section of downtown San Francisco. “I say, why not stay in the optimal shape that you have? Hormones, we know, keep you useful. So why the heck aren’t we using them?” After taking the “ridiculously powerful” hormone, Campion says “I can tell you from experience, the feeling of well-being, of focus, and of masculine energy are massively increased. It’s like you’re back to being 35.”

Testosterone prescriptions are doled out not only to regular middle-aged men who simply want to be more “manly,” but also trans genders who are trying to transform their bodies into what they see fit. After taking the hormone for just two years, one trans gender told the New York Times of his physical changes, including a deeper voice, broader shoulders, and more defined chest.

Unregulated industry poses risks for testosterone drug side effects

But the FDA is concerned about the implications of such blatant use, as a full 50 percent of all Low T patients have not been clinically diagnosed with hypogonadism – the only condition that testosterone drugs are currently approved to treat.

“I haven’t seen any real rigorous scientific studies of the low-T private clinics. It’d be interesting to know how many young guys with normal testosterone levels get treatment from those types of places,” said a University of Texas epidemiologist.

What many men may not realize are potentially dangerous side effects associated with this so-called fountain of youth. A recent study on testosterone drug side effects indicated that men 65 or older had an increased risk of heart attack when taking the supplements. And a  2013 trial revealed a higher rate of death and cardiovascular problems in men who took testosterone and had a history of heart disease.

In fact, incidence of blood clots, strokes, heart attack and sudden death have been the topic of heated litigation against testosterone manufacturers, with more new cases added every month. For many injured plaintiffs, the emotional resonance of Low T marketing influenced their decision to begin hormone therapy, without adequate knowledge of potential heart attack risks. As a prime example of such marketing, the Androgel website lures new customers with the following language as workers craft the Androgel name at building scale:

“You are a man. You want facts. You get down to business. You might have low testosterone. You don’t like wasting time. You’re visiting this site for a reason.”

  1., Why testosterone is the drug of the future
  2. Mayo Clinic, What are the heart risks associated with testosterone therapy?