Selling Testosterone

Testosterone ads for men are all over TV. Now come the warnings of health dangers. We’ll investigate.

An ad for the testosterone-boosting Fortesta Gel. ( Endo Pharmaceuticals)

An ad for the testosterone-boosting Fortesta Gel. ( Endo Pharmaceuticals)

Turn on television for the evening news, and it can seem like all Viagra and Cialis ads all the time.  But right in there for a while now, almost as wall-to-wall, are the ads telling men to check their testosterone.  Feeling sluggish, they ask?  Maybe it’s “low T”.  Ask your doctor, and you may soon be rolling testosterone into your armpit, getting it off a patch, an injection.  And revving up again for life.  A miracle!  Last week, a new study came out finding substantial risks.  Heart attack risk.  This hour On Point:  men, aging, “low T” talk, risk, and the charge of overselling testosterone.

— Tom Ashbrook


Melinda BeckHealth Journal columnist for The Wall Street Journal. (@MelindaBeckWSJ)

Lisa M. Schwartz, professor of medicine and community and family medicine at the Dartmouth Institute at Dartmouth College.

Brad Anawaltprofessor and chief of medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center.

Michael Kimmel, distinguished professor of sociology at SUNY at Stony Brook. Author of “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men,” “The Politics of Manhood,” “The Gendered Society,” “Misframing Men,” “Manhood in America” and “The Guy’s Guide to Feminism.”

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Weighing Testosterone’s Benefits and Risks — “Officials at the Food and Drug Administration said on Friday that they were reassessing the safety of testosterone products in light of the recent studies, and will investigate rates of stroke, heart attack and death in men using the drugs.”

Live Science: Low T: Real Illness or Pharma Windfall? — “Because low T can be treated with prescription medication, it has become the health problemdu jour for aggressive pharmaceutical marketing: The airwaves are now flooded with ads showing doughy, middle-age men turning into vigorous athletes and confident lovers.”

The Dartmouth Institute: ‘Low T’: How To Sell Disease — “By lowering the bar, pharmaceutical companies target people in the ‘big grey zone’ between being clearly well or clearly sick. ‘There are a lot of American men. Some are grumpy. Some are tired. Some may not be interested in sex at the moment. And all of them are aging,’ say Schwartz and Woloshin. ‘This is the intended target of the campaign.'”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 26, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

Nov 26, 2015
Jewel performs in the On Point Studio on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. (Liz Gillis / WBUR)

Singer-songwriter Jewel asked “who will save your soul”? Now she’s talking about saving her own. We’ll talk to Jewel.

Nov 25, 2015
Three of baker Renee McLeoud's delicious pies, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Bring your appetite! We’re gathering around the radio table with three chefs and new Thanksgiving recipes.

Nov 25, 2015
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives to the State Library of Iowa in the Ola Babcock Miller Building, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On the day before Thanksgiving, we talk with Marilynne Robinson – one of America’s greatest authors, thinkers, moralists — about fear and hope in a hard, frightening time.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »