The number of testosterone lawsuits has expanded in recent years because the multiple drug companies that make the product have pushed testosterone therapy on many men who may not have needed it. Additionally, the therapy can cause a number of side effects and even lead to complications that may be harmful or deadly. These include an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Testosterone is a natural hormone, and one that declines in men as they age. Some men genuinely have low testosterone levels that need to be treated. Drug companies, many people believe, have pushed this therapy on men who were simply experiencing natural low levels. The consequences were devastating for some, and the lawsuits have been filed to compensate those who were harmed and to punish the drug companies that many feel were negligent.
Testosterone and Male Hypogonadism
Testosterone is a natural androgen, or male sex hormone that both men and women have. In men it is responsible for the development of reproductive organs, for muscle strength and mass, for the distribution of fat, for sex drive, and for bone density and strength. As men get older, levels of testosterone decline, but the process is natural, and for most men it is not a serious health problem.
When low levels of testosterone are unnatural and cause other health problems, it is called male hypogonadism. The only way to know if levels of testosterone are low enough to qualify as this condition is to do a blood test. Many different things can cause hypogonadism, including testicle damage, infections, chemotherapy, obesity, pituitary gland disorders, and others.
Hypogonadism is serious because it can cause a number of symptoms. These include breast enlargement, infertility, erectile dysfunction, loss of facial and body hair, and loss of bone or muscle mass and density. These are real and serious health problems that require some type of medical treatment.
Testosterone Therapy and the Controversy of Low T
Men who experience hypogonadism may be treated with testosterone therapy, supplementation with the natural hormone. They are also typically treated for whatever underlying condition is causing the decline in testosterone, if a cause can be found. Testosterone therapy may be administered through a skin patch, a topical gel, or an injection.
Some of the testosterone therapy products on the market include AndroGel , a popular topical testosterone made by AbbVie Inc., Androderm, a patch made by Allergan, and Depo-Testosterone, an injectable form made by Pfizer.
These testosterone therapy products are supposed to be used in men who have been tested for and have been found to have male hypogonadism. They are not indicated for men who simply have some of the natural symptoms of low testosterone due to aging, like low sex drive or fatigue. Doctors are allowed, at their own discretion, to prescribe these medications for any patient, but they were meant for use only in true cases of hypogonadism.
In recent years more and more men have been prescribed testosterone therapy, often without a blood test to find out if they really have hypogonadism. Drug companies making these therapies have pushed men to report signs of so-called Low T to their doctors and to ask for a prescription. This move has proven controversial and because of the potential complications of testosterone therapy, has led to a number of lawsuits.
Complications of Testosterone Therapy
Testosterone therapy is supposed to be restricted because it comes with certain risks. For men suffering some of the serious symptoms of hypogonadism, those risks are often balanced or outweighed by the benefits of supplementing with testosterone. For other men, however, the risks are not necessarily worth the reward.
One of the most serious risks of testosterone therapy is the possibility of blood clot formation. A blood clot typically forms in the legs, but can move from there to the heart, lungs, or brain. In those locations a clot may form a blockage that can have devastating consequences, including death.
In one study of testosterone therapy, participating men were found to have more heart problems than those not taking the hormone. The potential consequences were serious enough that the study was halted before all the results could be determined. Another study, from 2013, found that men on testosterone therapy had more adverse outcomes than those receiving a placebo. These included heart attacks and strokes.
Unethical Marketing of Testosterone
In addition to the risks of using testosterone therapy, testosterone lawsuits have been filed because many plaintiffs believe that the makers of these products engaged in unethical marketing. Companies like AbbVie and Pfizer engaged in direct-to-consumer marketing of their testosterone products. The marketing was technically legal according to FDA rules, but was a very aggressive way to convince many men with normal loss of testosterone due to aging that they needed a testosterone therapy. These marketing practices directly led to more men asking for and receiving testosterone. These men may not have needed it and were then exposed to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
AbbVie is one of the companies facing lawsuits over testosterone therapy. Five men sued in 2014; two had strokes and three had heart attacks while using AndroGel. One of these men claimed he had never had heart problems before taking the medication and that he was led to try it through seeing the aggressive advertising. The plaintiffs accused AbbVie of deceiving them through deceptive advertising that promoted the benefits of testosterone and downplayed the risks.
Lawsuits have also been filed against Pfizer, and the Pharmacia & Upjohn division that makes Depo-Testosterone. One plaintiff experienced heart problems that he blamed on the product and claimed that Pfizer promoted the benefits of Depo-Testosterone, but misled him regarding the risks. He and other plaintiffs believe that the company acted unethically, failed to warn the public of all the risks, and promoted a product as safe and effective when really it came with serious risks.
Drug makers like AbbVie and Pfizer made billions promoting their testosterone therapy product Low T. The advertisements they used played into the insecurities of aging men, promising them renewed vitality and sex drive. Unfortunately these ads were misleading and convinced too many men that Low T was a real condition and that their products could help, whether or not their doctors tested them for hypogonadism.
If you suffered from taking testosterone therapy and you believe the misleading marketing played a role in your decision to try the treatment, you could have a case for a lawsuit. Settlements may be forthcoming as more men come forward to tell their stories. If you suffered heart problems or had a stroke, you may be living with lifelong health problems because of it.
You may even be the loved one of someone who died because of a heart attack or stroke while taking a testosterone therapy. If your loved one didn’t actually need the therapy and was never tested for hypogonadism, you could have a case. Compensation from a lawsuit can help cover medical expenses and funeral expenses, but also make up for pain and suffering. Let a lawyer take a look at your situation and the potential for making a case. With this professional by your side you may just be able to get damages from the big drug companies.