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Drug-Makers Use CME Courses to Push Testosterone

Drug-Makers Use CME Courses to Push Testosterone

October 19, 2015 — Drug-makers are funding continuing medical education (CME) courses to promote testosterone for “off-label” purposes, according to a Watchdog Report by MedPage Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Forty-five states require doctors to take CME courses to maintain their medical licenses. The courses are supposed to be evidence-based, unbiased lectures that help doctors stay up-to-date on medical issues.

Last year, income from the courses hit $2.7 billion — $676 million of which (about 25%) was paid by drug-makers to course providers.

Critics say drug-makers are using the courses to sell diseases — medicalizing normal conditions like declining testosterone, inventing conditions like “Low T,” and convincing doctors that the condition is under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Another problem is “off-label” (unapproved) promotion. An online CME course led by Dr. Martin Miner declared that testosterone was “no longer ruled out” in men with active, low-grade prostate cancer — in direct contradiction to FDA warnings and the label.

Several other industry-funded CME courses implied that low testosterone was associated with a wide range of health conditions:

The courses are part of a wildly-successful promotional strategy that has created a $2.1 billion industry for testosterone as a central part of men’s health — all while skirting laws prohibiting “off-label” promotion of drugs for anything except what the FDA has explicitly approved.

Testosterone is only approved for men with hypogonadism, a rare condition that occurs when testicles stop producing testosterone due to an injury or disease.

Boosting an aging man’s testosterone levels to that of a 25 year-old is marketed as a way to improve health. However, a number of recent studies have suggested that it may also boost a man’s risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

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