Natasha Singer in the New York Times:
--writes about the campaign to convince all men over the age of maybe 25 that if they ever once felt tired or run-down or in any way lacking in manly vigor, they probably have testosterone deficiency and need one of the various products to supplement their testosterone--now a $2B annual industry. It seems that the brilliance of deciding that testosterone deficiency should be called "low T" was a major breakthrough in the public acceptability of this new supposed disease state. Two executives from AbbVie, the maker of AndroGel, were named by the trade magazine Medical Marketing & Media as "the all-star large pharma marketing team of the year" for their low-T promotional campaign.
Singer makes two major points in her article--first, that Pharma has successfully skated around the FDA by pushing the idea of "low T" through unbranded promotions. If you run an ad telling the public that low T is real and serious and they should see their doctors to find out if they have it, but don't at the same time mention your drug by name, you can get away with pushing your drug for all sorts of conditions for which it has not been granted FDA approval. (The FDA, it seems, is quite old-fashioned and still thinks that testosterone replacement products should be used for medically diagnosed cases of significant hormonal deficiency.) The second point is the widespread use of questionnaires where virtually anyone will answer "yes" to at least one question, which is then supposed to suggest that you probably have low T and could benefit from treatment.
Singer mentions along the way that the risks of taking testosterone long-term when you don't have serious hormone deficiency are essentially unknown. So why does "low T" sound like the next Vioxx waiting to happen, where drug firms convince the entire world that they all need to take a drug, and only later find out the substantial increase in adverse reactions that they have now inflicted on thousands if not millions of people? (This is what a while ago Don Light and I labeled the "Inverse Benefit Law":