Testosterone Side Effects May Be More Dangerous With Short-Term “Lifestyle” Use: Study

The findings of a new study suggests that men may face a higher risk of heart problems with short-term use of testosterone replacement therapy, which may occur among those receiving the “Low T” drugs for lifestyle reasons, where they do not suffer a medical condition that is causing a testosterone deficiency. 

In recent years, there have been increasing concerns within the medical community about the potential heart side effects of testosterone drugs, such as Androgel, Testim, Axiron and other popular gels, creams, patches and injections.

While the medications were initially thought to be a “niche” treatment, the industry grew to generate $2 billion a year in sales, amid aggressive direct-to-consumer advertisements encouraging men to talk to their doctor about whether they may be suffering from “low T,” which is a non-existent medical condition that was created by the drug company marketing campaigns.

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Many men prescribed testosterone drugs in recent years have used the medications for short periods of time, not for a true medical need, but rather for so-called “life-style reasons,” to address decreased energy levels, sex drive or other symptoms associated the natural drops in testosterone levels as all men age.

Several studies published since late 2013 have highlighted potential heart risks men may face from testosterone side effects, including findings that suggest some men may be more prone to suffer a heart attack, stroke, blood clots or die. These findings have led the FDA to issue warnings urging doctors not to prescribe the medications unless men have permanent testosterone deficiencies caused by certain medical conditions, indicating that the drugs may not be safe for low testosterone levels caused by aging.

In a study published this month in the medical journal The Lancet, Canadian researchers sought to resolve some conflicting evidence about the link between testosterone drugs and cardiovascular events.

Testosterone Treatment Duration May Play A Role

Researchers conducted a population-based cohort study involving 10,311 men given testosterone replacement therapy, who were 66 years of age or older. They were compared to a control group of about 28,000 men who were not given the drugs.

The findings suggest that those who received testosterone treatments longer seem to face less risk. However, if men were only given testosterone for a short period of time, their risks of heart problems and deaths increased.

“Long-term exposure to testosterone replacement therapy was associated with reduced risks of mortality, cardiovascular events, and prostate cancer,” the researchers found. “However, testosterone replacement therapy increased the risk of mortality and cardiovascular events with short durations of therapy.”

The researchers called for randomized clinical trials to confirm and delve deeper into their findings.

The findings come as thousands of men nationwide are pursuing Androgel lawsuits, Axiron lawsuits, Testim lawsuits and other testosterone treatment lawsuits against the drug makers, alleging that they recklessly promoted the medications and withheld information about the potential heart risks.

Given the similar allegations raised in the lawsuits, more than 5,000 cases filed throughout the federal court system have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is centralized before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in the Northern District of Illinois.

As part of the coordinated proceedings, a series of Androgel trials are expected to begin between April and November 2017, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

If testosterone drug settlements are not reached following bellwether trials in the MDL, the drug makers may face hundreds of individual trial dates in U.S. District Courts nationwide over failure to warn about the heart risks associated with their medications.


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