November 6, 2014 — Sales and advertising for the most popular testosterone replacement product, AndroGel, have slowed in the wake of growing safety concerns about side effects like heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and death.
AbbVie reported that sales of AndroGel have continued to fall. According to the third quarter earnings, AndroGel sales dropped 6.7% in the third quarter of 2014 to $232 million, following a second-quarter sales drop of 15.6%. Last year, total AndroGel sales fell 10% overall. Total sales of testosterone treatments fell 6% during the same time period.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that money spent on advertising is also plummeting. In the first half of 2014, Eli Lilly and AbbVie spending on TV advertisements fell 13% to $54.1 million from the first half of last year. Auxilium Pharmaceuticals, which makes Testim (testosterone gel), slashed hundreds of sales jobs last year and agreed to a $2.6 billion buyout soon after.
Testosterone injections have been around since the 1950s, but hormone therapy for men did not become mainstream until the early 2000s, when AbbVie began marketing the easy-to-apply AndroGel (testosterone gel).
Sales of prescription testosterone increased from $18 million in 1988 to $1.6 billion in 2011. AndroGel now has a 60% market share in the booming industry. From 2001 to 2011, the percentage of men over 40 on testosterone tripled.
AbbVie also launched a massive ad campaign inundating late-night TV with commercials implying that hypogonadism (low testosterone) was a widespread disease. They urged men with fatigue, sexual dysfunction, depressed mood, and other common ailments to ask their doctor about “Low T.” Last year, a study found that just 50% of men on testosterone therapy were actually diagnosed with hypogonadism, and 25% received a prescription without ever having a blood test.
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