Testim and AndroGel are two brand names for testosterone hormone replacement therapy. And while each product is prescribed and sold in a one-percent formulation, and both are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat hypogonadism—they do have some differences. Drug application sites vary, market share is vastly disproportionate and one of them has garnered U.S. Federal Trade Commission attention for the maker's marketing practices.
When performing normally within the male body, the sex hormone testosterone helps men maintain an erection and contributes to sperm count, fertility and sex drive. However, if testosterone is unusually low—which can happen due to the condition known as hypogonadism (as well as the normal aging process)—men might experience complications. Such complications can include a diminished sex drive, infertility and even breast development.
When male testosterone levels are too low, or a man suffers from hypogonadism, doctors sometimes prescribe a synthetic testosterone such as AndroGel or Testim. This type of hormone replacement therapy is available as an injection, a patch and a gel. Potential side effects include breast enlargement, emotional instability, prostate cancer and high blood pressure.
AndroGel testosterone hormone therapy is applied daily to the male shoulders, arms and sometimes the abdomen. This product is normally administered in 50 milligram daily dosages, packaged in single packets or tubes. It is manufactured by Solvay and has a 70 percent market share of the transdermal testosterone business, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Like AndroGel, Testim is also applied daily in a 50-milligram dosage. It is to be applied only on arms and shoulders, according to package directions. Testim provides higher levels of serum to users (and greater bioavailability) than its competitor AndroGel, according to a study performed by the Orlando Clinical Research Center. And unlike its competitor, no controversy surrounds its current marketing strategy.
According to an article in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Online Journal Sentinel, dated Aug. 9, 2009, synthetic testosterone prescription use has grown from 1.7 million users in 2002 to 3.3 million in 2008. Recent anti-aging marketing efforts by AndroGel manufacturer, Solvay, seem to be focused on increasing that number in controversial ways.
Solvay is promoting synthetic testosterone to approximately 13 million men older than 45 (who they say may suffer from an aging-related testosterone decrease condition that they call Low T).
AndroGel and the FTC
The FTC alleged in February 2009 that that Solvay “unlawfully conspired to pay off two generic firms to keep their gel products off the market,” according to the Journal Sentinel newspaper. AndroGel can cost about $300 for a one-month supply. The generic option would only cost consumers about $45 for the same amount of product, making Solvay’s actions “unconscionable,” according to Jim Leibowitz, an FTC commissioner.