Testosterone Prescriptions Up

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Middle-aged men, responding to recent TV ads that blamed decreased virility and moodiness on low levels of testosterone, have bombarded their doctors with requests for male hormone replacement therapy. About 3.3 million testosterone prescriptions were writted last year in the U.S.

Pharmeceutical companies, specifically Solvay, brought testosterone therapy products to market after a series of medical journal articles. The controversial articles touted the benefits of testosterone and minimizing the risks.

Over the last few years, prescriptions for testosterone, especially Solvay's AndroGel, have boomed despite concerns that it may increase the risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. Aside from the potential health risks, there is a lack of science that the expensive drugs provide real benefit for middle-age and older men whose testosterone levels are declining as a result of normal aging.

In June, the American Medical Association said that anti-aging claims for testosterone and other hormones were not supported by evidence and the drugs may pose long-term risks. It said claims made by proponents need to be supported by well-designed, placebo-controlled clinical trials.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration issued a serious warning for Solvay's AndroGel and a similar product, Testim, saying that women and children could be at risk if they come in contact with men who use the products.

The products are applied daily to the skin. The FDA said young children were inadvertently exposed, resulting in inappropriate enlargement of the penis or clitoris; premature development of pubic hair; advanced bone age; increased libido; and aggressive behavior.

So, if you're considering going on male hormone replacements therapy, proceed with caution.

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