Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Nalts Has Low T! Asks Internet for a Diagnosis Based on His Brain MRI Images. Isn't There an App for That?

Nalts (aka "ADHD Boy", aka Kevin Nalty, Marketing Strategist, former Merck/Janssen-Cilag employee) posted a new YouTube video of his brain -- which includes a series of MRI scans. It seems he has "Low T" (low testosterone) and his doctor recommended the scan to see if his Low T is caused by a "pituitary issue." I hope he is OK and just growing old like the rest of us.

As Nalts himself admits, he has no privacy when it comes to his health issues. I've blogged about his ADHD years ago (see "ADHD Boy").

His brain scan video is his latest revelation about his health-related problems. In the video Nalts asks for some "wisdom of the crowd" to help him/his doctor? interpret the image and arrive at some kind of diagnosis. Here's the video -- see if you can help:

"Low T" is a phrase invented by AbbVie, which markets Androgel, a "hormone replacement" gel for men. AbbVie's “Drive for Five” campaign urges men to know their testosterone levels, in addition to lipid, BP, blood sugar and PSA numbers. On the website (; "Mens Health | Learn about 5 risks to mens health") is an animated "gear box" that shifts from high cholesterol (first gear) to high blood pressure (second gear) to high blood sugar (third gear) to high PSA (four gear) and, finally, to low testosterone (fifth gear). AbbVie's "Low T" agencies are Digitas Health for consumer ads and AbelsonTaylor for professional ads ; More...

The website encourages men not to be "embarrassed to talk to your doctor about any health problems you may be having, such as:
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Problems during sexual activity
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Bladder or bowel control
  • Weight gain
  • Drug abuse
I don't know which, if any, of these symptoms drove Nalts to his doctor. What I do know is that Nalts is a father of 4 children, is a comedian, has male-pattern baldness, and is pretty thin -- all of which do not fit the symptom profile promoted by AbbVie. I'm not sure, however, if he currently has problems of a sexual nature or if he is abusing drugs (although he once said, in jest, "Not taking drugs is like not drinking water when you are thirsty").

Perhaps his doctor just routinely measures testosterone levels in men of a certain age because AbbVie sales reps suggested he/she do that as part of the "Drive for Five" campaign.

Speaking of Marketing of Low T, I will interview Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, Associate Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center and Director of PharmedOut, about this subject in an upcoming Pharma Marketing Talk show.

This show is a live streaming audio podcast that airs on Thursday, April 25, 2013, at 2:00 PM (Eastern US). You can listen live or to the archived podcast afterward here.

We will discuss how the marketing of Low T drugs uses ghostwriting, celebrities, symptom quizzes, and numbers to convince men and physicians that "low testosterone" is a medical condition that should be treated.

I invite Nalts to participate in the discussion and tell us more about his experience and possibly debate the issues with Dr. Fugh-Berman. Topics/Questions for discussion include:
  • How does the marketing of Androgel and other testosterone gels and patches use ghostwriting, celebrities, symptom quizzes, and numbers to convince men and physicians that "low testosterone" is a medical condition that should be treated?
  • Do you see this as a problem akin to "disease mongering?" What's the harm in making more men aware of "low testosterone" and urging them to treat it?
  • Are the same tactics used for other products?
  • How do direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads for these products differ from professional ads aimed at physicians?

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