The number of prescriptions for testosterone replacement therapy written in the United Kingdom has increased by 20 percent in the past three years, raising concerns among general practitioners that the hormone treatment may become overused as it was in the United States.
Testosterone replacement therapy is intended to increase testosterone levels in men who have low levels of the hormone due to hypogonadism, a condition in which the body does not produce enough testosterone due to injury, defect or disease.
In the U.S., drug manufacturers have heavily marketed the drugs directly to consumers, saying testosterone supplements can boost libido, increase muscle mass and improve mood.
The advertisements worked. Many men went to their doctors asking for the treatment by name. Some were never even tested to see if their testosterone levels were below normal for their age. Prescriptions for testosterone therapies skyrocketed.
The U.K. has stricter laws on direct-to-consumer advertising for drug companies, meaning men in the U.K. are not exposed to the commercials for testosterone treatments that men in the U.S. are. However, word has apparently gotten around the globe with more Brits asking their doctors if testosterone therapy is right for them.
In the U.S., as prescriptions for testosterone treatments increased, so did reports of adverse events in men who used the hormone. Studies began linking testosterone replacement therapy to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and death, leading the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch an investigation into safety risks with testosterone treatments. As a result, new warnings were added to the labels of testosterone therapies and the FDA ordered that the indication on the products be rewritten to reduce inappropriate use.
Source: This Week