Tuesday, May 25, 2010

OMG! Do I Have ED or "Low T?" Or Both?! Pharma "Symptom Quizzes" Are NOT in the Best Interest of Patient Health!

Just when I resigned myself to the fact that the odds of me having ED are better than 2 in 5 (40% of men over the age of 40 have ED claims Lilly; see "40over40: Lilly's DTC ED Awareness Campaign in the UK"), I now learn that I may also have "Low T."

According to Solvay Pharmaceuticals men who are obese are 2.4 times more likely to have "Low T" than men who are not. If you have high blood pressure, the figure is 1.8 times; and men with high cholesterol are 1.5 times more likely to have "Low T." With all that going against me, I figure my odds of having "Low T" are at least equal to my odds of having ED.

What's "Low T?" you may ask. Good question. Soulful Sepulcher (@soulflsepulcer) called my attention to the blog post "Male Hormone Replacement - Big Pharma and Solvay Pharmaceuticals are at it again mass marketing, popularizing, & main streaming diseases for profit" where I thought I would find the answer. Instead, I found this image of "Low Mr T." Close, but no cigar!

The "T" in "Low T" stands for "testosterone," the male hormone responsible for sex drive/sexual function, muscle mass, and everything else that makes a male a "man."

Of course, Solvay has a quiz you can take to see if you have "Low T." As with other pharmaceutical company health self-assessments, Solvay's quiz is designed to make sure you think you have the condition for which it tests. Even the name -- "Low T Quiz" -- implies the results you will get.

Sure enough, I failed! Now, in addition to questions from Lilly to ask my doctor about ED, I will also have to ask her the following questions about "Low T" suggested by Solvay in its "Doctor Discussion Guide":
  1. I don't feel sick, I just don't feel like myself anymore. Could I have Low T?
  2. Are the symptoms I am experiencing and my other risk factors related to Low T? (Feel free to discuss your results from the Low T Symptoms Quiz.)
  3. Can you order the blood test that measures my total testosterone and the free testosterone in my body?
  4. What medical treatment options are available if I have Low T?
  5. What is the difference between the different testosterone replacement therapies?
  6. If I don't treat my Low T, will it get worse?
  7. Are there any other changes I can make in my diet, fitness and lifestyle to help address Low T?
I assume doctors are being prepped by Solvay reps for the day boatloads of men come into their offices with questions about "Low T," which is a medical condition they may not have heard of in medical school.

Symptom quizzes designed by pharmaceutical marketers in cahoots with sponsored patient advocacy groups are dishonest, IMHO. I do not believe they represent "honest dialogues with the public" nor do I believe that they are in "the best interest of patient health," two principles recently espoused by Bob Perkins, Vice President, Public Policy, AstraZeneca (see "Transparency and Trust in Health Communications"). In fact, they are just the opposite: dishonest and in the best interest of the pharmaceutical company!

4 comments:

  1. Great commentary on the dishonesty and not in the best interest of patient health. That TV ad sent the viewer directly to the site to take the test, which is even worse in my opinion.

    http://twitter.com/soulflsepulcher/status/14697064931

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  2. What's sad is that they believe this is the proper use of social media. Ideally it should work against them in building a kind of disrespect. But the danger is that a naive public falls prey to their scare tactic.

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  3. Thanks for the post.Should try to grow more awareness about the same.We should be able to protect ourselves from the dangers that the modern age medication entails.

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  4. I agree with PharmaGuy. Pharmaceutical marketers do not often serve the best interest of a patient’s health. As an example, BOTOX is marketed as a safe treatment for correcting facial wrinkles; yet, the fact remains it is a toxic substance, and in rare cases has been life-threatening. As to "Low T", there are natural supplements, like oyster powder, that are quite helpful, and one does not need to resort to medications.

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