Marketing and Testosterone Treatment in the USA: A Systematic Review.
Bandari J., Ayyash OM., Emery SL., Wessel CB., Davies BJ.
CONTEXT: Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for classic hypogonadism, although off-label indications have resulted in a dramatic expansion in prescriptions in the USA. Marketing may significantly affect prescriber behavior. OBJECTIVE: To systematically review all available evidence on marketing and TRT in the USA. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: PubMed, Embase, and Scopus were searched up to July 2017 for all relevant publications reporting on assessments of the TRT market size, economic costs associated with hypogonadism, trends in TRT prescriptions, drug discontinuation rates, and advertising and sales efforts in the USA. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Twenty retrospective studies were included in the final analysis. The market size for hypogonadism constitutes 5.6-76.8% of men in the USA, with the lower end of the range representing the strictest criteria for diagnosis. Men with a diagnosis of hypogonadism consume $14 118 in direct and indirect costs to the payer. Over the last 2 decades, TRT prescriptions have increased between 1.8- and 4-fold. After 1 yr, 80-85% of men discontinue TRT. There is an association between direct-to-consumer advertising and testosterone testing, TRT prescriptions, and TRT without testosterone testing. There is a high prevalence of misinformation on Internet advertising. CONCLUSIONS: Off-label indications have driven the dramatic expansion of TRT prescriptions over the last 2 decades. Direct-to-consumer advertising poses a unique challenge in the USA. Overtreatment can be avoided by applying strict diagnostic criteria for hypogonadism, which limits the addressable market for TRT. PATIENT SUMMARY: In this report, we reviewed the relationship between marketing and testosterone therapy in the USA. We found that many patients are prescribed testosterone without an appropriate diagnosis of hypogonadism, which may be related to the marketing efforts for off-label prescribing.