DTC

Testosterone Testing Rises with DTC Ads

Televised direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is associated with greater testosterone testing, according to a study published March 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The advertising is also tied to new initiation of androgen replacement therapy with or without recent serum testosterone tests.

There has been a surge of men seeking testosterone for age-related reductions in testosterone levels without pathological hypogonadism. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates brand-specific prescription testosterone advertisements, but non-branded condition awareness advertisements (“low T”) are not regulated.

The present study used MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters databases (Truven Health Analytics) to quantify population-level testosterone testing and initiation within designated market areas (DMA) based upon exposure to total monthly testosterone advertising. The researchers, led by J. Bradley Layton, Ph.D., from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, analyzed monthly television ratings data from Nielsen Media Research for televised testosterone advertisements in the largest 75 of 210 U.S. DMAs (2008 through 2013).

The study found that DTCA exposure increased over the period, although there was substantial regional variation, ranging from months without any advertising to a mean of 13.6 monthly household exposures in December 2012. Cumulative exposures ranged from 154.9 to 203.5 advertisement exposures per DMA over the study period.

Of the more than 17 million commercially insured men in the 75 DMAs, more than one million men (mean age, 49.6 years) had new serum testosterone tests. In these 75 DMAs, each exposure to a testosterone advertisement was associated with monthly relative increases in rates of new testosterone testing of 0.6 percent or 0.14 new tests per 10,000 men. New initiation increased 0.7 percent, and initiation without a recent baseline test rose 0.8 percent. Initiation of therapy without a recent baseline test decreased slightly but consistently over the study period.

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