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Studies find AndroGel and other testosterone therapy drugs can cause heart attacks

Marion MunleyTaking testosterone therapy doubled the risk of heart attack among men over age 65 and nearly tripled the risk in younger men with a history of heart disease, according to a recent report published in PLOS ONE, an inclusive, peer-reviewed resource from the Public Library of Science. The report, which involved a study of over 55,000 men, is the latest of several studies raising concerns about the risk of heart attacks in men taking testosterone therapy.

This and other studies, which have concluded that testosterone therapy was associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events, particularly in men over 65 years, have spurred an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lawsuits have also been filed on behalf of men who have suffered heart attacks and strokes after taking testosterone products, such as AndroGel.

Although testosterone replacement is an important therapy for men with hypogonadism, abnormally low testosterone levels, drug companies have also marketed testosterone directly to consumers, urging men to consider hormones to treat symptoms of low testosterone (“low T,”) which are said to include fatigue, mood change and reduced sex drive. This includes advertising by AbbVie, the maker of AndroGel, one of the most popular testosterone therapies on the market.

Globally, and due in part aggressive advertising on the part of drug companies, including AbbVie and others, it appears that prescriptions for testosterone are rapidly increasing, suggesting that the use of these drugs is expanding beyond the evidence-based indications. CBS News reported that annual prescriptions for testosterone more than doubled in just four years to 430 million, surpassing sales for Viagra. According to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), only about half of the men taking testosterone therapy have actually been diagnosed with hypogonadism, and 25% hadn’t even had their testosterone tested.

Despite the number of studies pointing to increased heart attack risk with testosterone replacement therapy drugs, the FDA has yet to require warning labels on testosterone products and drug companies continue the widespread marketing of their testosterone replacement drugs to treat “low T.” The market for testosterone treatments currently include skin patches, short acting injections and topical gels. AbbVie Inc’s AndroGel, the market leader, generated about $1.2 billion in sales in 2012.

The FDA has urged health care professionals and patients to report any side effects involving prescription testosterone products to the FDA MedWatch program.

If you have experienced a serious side effect after taking AndroGel or another testosterone therapy drug, call Marion Munley and the Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys at 855-866-5529.

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