Are Industry-Funded Testosterone CME Courses Distorting the Facts?
An investigative report published this month by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today suggests that some industry-funded CME (continuing medical education) courses may be distorting the facts about low-T therapy, a class of medications currently at the center of thousands of testosterone lawsuit filings. The report asserts that these courses were part of a marketing initiative aimed at positioning AndroGel and similar medications as a central component of men’s healthcare.
Among other things, the investigation uncovered evidence that some of these industry-funded CME courses may have distorted the safety of low-T therapy. For example, content for one course said that such drugs could safely be prescribed to men with prostate cancer, in direct contradiction to the products’ labeling. Others downplayed the seriousness of some testosterone side effects or implied that the drugs could be used to mitigate low libido and other issues associated with male aging, the report said.
All of the CME courses reviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today were designed by third-party companies at the behest of drug makers. They were offered free to physicians, who are required to participate in CME in order to maintain their medical licenses.
Testosterone manufacturers denied having any influence over course content. But critics doubt that the doctors taking these classes are getting unbiased information. The third-party companies that design the courses “want to get more money from industry and they’re certainly not going to put on a course that doesn’t appeal to industry,” Paul Lichter, head of the University of Michigan’s clinical and educational conflict of interest committee, told the Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today.
Testosterone treatments are currently the subject of more than 2,500 lawsuits filed on behalf of men who allegedly experienced heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular complications due to their use. In March, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the drug’s manufacturers to add new information to the product labeling regarding a potential heightened risk of heart attacks and stroke. The FDA also mandated that the labels clearly state that the drugs haven’t been proven safe or effective in alleviating health issues associated with age-related drops in testosterone. In fact, they are only approved for the treatment of hypogonadism (low testosterone) associated with an underlying medical condition.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP is representing dozens of testosterone lawsuit plaintiffs. If you or someone you care about suffered a serious cardiovascular event while using AndroGel or a similar medication, please call 1-877-779-1414 to learn more about your legal options.