A sharp uptake of testosterone products by Australian men has been blamed on ‘disease mongering' by pharmaceutical companies.
Testosterone product use jumped 115 percent from about 29,000 products dispensed in 2005 to 62,000 in 2010 following the marketing of a new gel, according to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme statistics.
Pharmaceutical companies marketing testosterone products in both Australia and Canada found ways to skirt advertising laws by warning that symptoms including low energy, low sex drive and even falling asleep after dinner could be due to low testosterone levels, researchers said.
Advertisements by two companies which ran in Australia and Canada in the past four years encouraged men with the symptoms to see their doctor for a testosterone test and ask about new treatments.
Australian and Canadian researchers said low testosterone was an unlikely cause of these symptoms.
Testosterone treatment has not been shown to improve libido, and sexual function, depression and cognitive function, or quality of life in men with age-related testosterone loss,' Agnes Vitry from the University of South Australia and Barbara Mintzes from the University of British Columbia in Canada said.
The researchers said testosterone therapy could expose men to many unwanted adverse effects, including progression to subclinical prostate cancer.
A recent study of testosterone replacement in older men was stopped early because of increased rates of adverse cardiovascular events, the authors wrote in the Medical Journal of Australia on Monday.
The authors said the advertisements which ran in national newspapers were classic examples of ‘disease mongering.'
The researchers argued that unbranded product advertising or ‘pseudo-branding' should be discouraged through harsher penalties.
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