Adverse health reports for testosterone drugs could fuel advertising

androgel pump 435x435 Adverse health reports for testosterone drugs could fuel advertisingEarlier this month, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a report that cast doubts about the safety of testosterone-replacement drugs for men who take them to boost their levels of the hormone. But with so many pharmaceutical drug companies vying for a larger share of the extremely lucrative but fiercely competitive testosterone drug market, don’t expect all the “Low-T” advertising to slow down until more is understood about the drugs.

Indeed, reports of adverse events linked to the drugs may fuel the need for some manufacturers relying on testosterone sales to ramp up advertising campaigns. The latest study, conducted by a group of epidemiologists in Colorado and Texas, found that men taking testosterone replacement drugs were 30 percent more likely to suffer a stroke, heart attack, or death. Perhaps the news may be enough to encourage some men to turn their backs on the artificial hormones and pursue natural means to boost testosterone levels, such as diet and exercise.

But that’s where aggressive direct-to-consumer advertising may make a difference. By taking their promises of a better life direct to the consumer via TV and magazine ads, drug companies are able to drive up sales and potentially offset any losses that adverse reports may cause.

An article published Thursday in Seeking Alpha demonstrates how valuable testosterone drugs have become to a handful of drug companies and how much is at stake. AbbVie, maker of the testosterone drug AndroGel, relies on its blockbuster rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drug Humira, the top-selling drug in the world, for most of its revenues. Eventually, however, Humira’s patent will expire and much of sales will be lost to generics.

AndroGel, however, has also reached blockbuster status and has the potential to compensate for Humira’s eventual losses. Sales of AndroGel soared from $650 million in 2010 to more than  $1.5 billion in 2012, and drug sales are expected to triple in the next four to five years.

Eli Lilly’s testosterone-replacement drug Axiron, which debuted in 2011, is also performing well, thanks to an aggressive direct-to-consumer advertising campaign. According to Seeking Alpha, Lilly gave Axiron a giant advertising budget after seeing how successful AbbeVie’s AndroGel marketing campaigns were.

Actavis, which makes a testosterone patch called Androderm, even reported a modest growth in sales despite its lack of direct-to-consumer marketing. Conversely, Auxilium, another testosterone drug maker, will see its sales of Testim slide roughly 6 percent after the company terminated its marketing partnership with drug giant GlaxoSmithKline.

In conclusion, Seeking Alpha says, “Don’t look for AbbVie to abandon AndroGel. In the first half of the year they spent over $40 million advertising AndroGel alone and that most likely won’t change. If AbbVie can maintain their market share and the testosterone market continues to grow AndroGel could be their next cash cow.”


Seeking Alpha