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.
Oct 7, 2015
The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames, after explosions near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike.  (AP)

The U.S. airstrike on the hospital in Kunduz. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan faces tough questions from Congress. We’re looking for what really happened.

Oct 7, 2015
Students in the new documentary film "Beyond Measure" take part in a project-based learning activity with their peers. (Courtesy the Filmmakers)

Arne Duncan’s headed out as U.S. Education Secretary. What’s next for America’s school kids?

Oct 6, 2015
In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, photo, Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake, mother of Alison Shuemake, browses a picture collage of her daughter at her home, in Middletown, Ohio. Alison Shuemake, 18, died Aug. 26, after a suspected heroin overdose. (AP)

American addiction. From prescription painkillers to heroin. The numbers are staggering. Why?

Oct 6, 2015
Eric Baker, co-owner of the Mo Money Pawn Shop, poses for a photo at the shop Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Phoenix.  (AP)

American gun policy front and center in the 2016 campaigns after the shootings in Oregon. We’ll look at who stands where on guns.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Rep. Daniel Webster: ‘I’m Gonna Sell This Message’
Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015

When House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced his retirement and resignation from his position last month, it surprised both his Party and the Washington political establishment. Now, with the House set to vote on a new Speaker on Oct. 25, three would-be party leaders are stepping in to make their case. U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster […]

More »
Our Week In The Web: October 2, 2015
Friday, Oct 2, 2015

We say hello again to our email address (since so many of you did this week) and goodbye to the Log Lady.

More »
Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Count Me As A Radical’
Thursday, Oct 1, 2015

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making waves in the 2016 Presidential race, and he joined us today from the US Capitol to explain how his campaign message is connecting with voters around the country.

More »