Depo-Testosterone is a medication that treats men who have low testosterone (also referred to as Low-T). Doses only need to be taken every 2 to 4 weeks. However, medications for low testosterone have been linked to greater risk for cardiovascular problems. Men who have been affected have filed legal claims and doctors have issued warnings.
After taking testosterone for low testosterone, did you suffer from blood clots or heart problems?
Depo-Testosterone is a type of injectable hormone replacement (androgen) that is used for treating men who have been diagnosed with Low-t (low testosterone). The medication is currently marketed by Pharmica & Upjohn Co., which is a unit of Pfizer.
The drug was originally approved in 1979 by the FDA for treating men’s bodies that did not naturally producing enough testosterone. That is what a majority of doctors prescribe this medication for. However, at times patients will use it for enhancing athletic performance and muscle growth. These uses are not medically approved.
Although lack of testosterone can be potentially dangerous for men, it can be deadly when they have too much. Taking androgen therapy drugs can lead to cardiovascular problems like stroke and heart attacks. There are also studies that show risk for prostate cancer may be increased.
Depo-Testosterone is one of the oldest drugs of this type that is available in the marketplace for treating low testosterone. It quietly continues to sell and earn revenues for Pfizer. There has been resurgence in its popularity in recent years.
The most recent low testosterone craze, which has fueled by major drug companies launching multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, has resulted in the testosterone market reaching approximately $2 billion in yearly sales. There has been in increase in the prescriptions for the drugs. Concerned doctors are now warning that many men might just be using the drug in order to regain their lost youth that men have been promised in commercials from pharmaceutical drug companies.
Use of low testosterone drug used to be rare. However, currently approximately 1 out of 25 men who are in their sixties taking some type of testosterone drug. Some doctors and consumer advocates are asking the FDA to order pharmaceutical drug companies to include a warning label with these drugs. An expert agency panel in September voted for stricter guidelines for use on drug labels and for additional heart safety studies.
In the meantime, many men- or their survivors- have been filing legal claims accusing pharmaceutical companies of pushing these drugs through advertising benefits that are unproven and failing to adequately warn them of their risks. Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. and Pfizer have faced lawsuits for Depo-Testosterone in federal and state courts.
What Depo-Testosterone Is And How It Works
Depo-Testosterone isn’t a topical gel, unlike AndroGel, which is the market’s most popular testosterone drug. It is instead a liquid that has been designed to be injected into the muscle. Testosterone cypionate is its active ingredient. It is a creamy white or white powder that is mixed in with some other ingredients in order to make this solution. There are two strengths of the drug available, 200 mg and 100 mg.
Every bottle contains the following:
- Testosterone cypionate (the drug’s active ingredient)
- Benzyl alcohol (preservative)
- Cotton seed oil
- Benzyl benzoate (a fixative that is used in some perfumes, and a mosquito, tick and chigger repellent).
Testosterone cypionate is dissolved into oil and is then injected in the muscle. It remains inside the body for a period of several days. A dose is injected by the patient every 2 to 4 weeks. These hormones bind to receptors inside the body. Then approximately 90 percent of the total testosterone is expelled by the body through feces and urine.
Depo-Testosterone has been indicated specifically to only be used in men who have testicular failure that is either due to disease, like testicular cancer or a condition they were born with. Numerous low testosterone clinics are unfortunately providing testosterone to men who are producing less testosterone naturally due to getting older.
Side Effects, Including Heart Attacks
Among the most concerning and deadly side effects that Depo-Testosterone has been linked to is increased risk for cardiovascular problems such as strokes and heart attacks. There are no testosterone drugs that currently carry any warnings for potential heart problems. Before ruling on requiring labels to be added the FDA has order for more studies to be conducted.
Millions of men in the U.S. might be at risk for strokes and heart attacks without realizing it.
A handful of studies have already linked heart attacks with the drugs. The FDA has been petitioned by consumer advocates to add warnings. According to Dr. Sidney Wolfe from the Health Research Group for Public Citizen, most people using testosterone shouldn’t be receiving it. He says they are not deriving any benefit, and their risk for getting a heart attack is double during the initial first months of starting to use the drug.
An article published by Wolfe in the British Medical Journal stated that as many as 1 out of 100 men might be at risk. Wolfe says that isn’t a rare risk, and estimates that injectable hormones such as Depo-Testosterone are used by over two million men.
The following are some of the side effect that this drug may cause:
- Inflammation and pain at the injection site
- Stomach problems
- Male pattern baldness
- Male breast development (gynecomastia)
- Congestive heart failure
- Blood clots in lungs and legs
- Tumors and prostate cancer
- Hepatitis and liver tumors
- Hypercalcemia (elevated calcium levels that might cause brain, kidney and bone problems)
The label on the drug warns against it being used to enhance athletic performance due to potential side effects. Benzyl alcohol, which is one of the solution’s ingredients, has been linked to premature infant breathing problems.
Heart Attack Victims Filing Lawsuits Against Pfizer
A number of testosterone drug manufacturers are currently facing lawsuits that have been filed by men who have had strokes, blood clots and heart attacks. Pharmacia & Upjohn C. and Pfizer are among those manufacturers facing legal difficulties.
Alvaro Roman Gutierrez suffered heart problems after taking Depo-Testosterone. His case went to court in September 2014. He has blamed the drug for his heart problems and has accused Pfizer of “disease mongering” through the manufacturer exaggerating the drug’s benefits and downplaying its risks.
In his complaint Gutierrez states that as a proximate and direct result of using Depo Testosterone that the plaintiff (Gutierrez) relied on the defendants’ (Pfizer) representations regarding the quality and character of the product. The complaint adds that the defendant failed to comply with federal regulations, and as a result the plaintiff suffered serious economic loss, damages, harm and physical injury and will continue to do so into the future.
In addition, the complaint states the drug manufacturer has a duty for warning the public and failed to do so. Pfizer stands behind its drug and denies any wrongdoing.
In a statement was issued by Steven Danehy, a Pfizer spokesman, who stated that they do not believe there is any merit to the cases against Pfizer and that the company intends to vigorously defend the cases in court.
Having to fight hormone drug lawsuits in court is something that Pfizer is used to. In 2012, women claiming that the drug caused their breast cancer were paid $896 million by Pfizer. Some doctors are warning that low testosterone can be treated by the same path that estrogen therapy did.