Sunday, January 19, 2014

Of At Least A Decade Past -- And Legacy Organon's Small Role In The Current "Low-T" Consumer Marketing Battle

As we prepare for a very quiet 2014 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day holiday, in our offices tomorrow, I thought I'd offer a vacation-style piece -- easy, breezy reading, in case Monday turns out to be a slow Merck news day. So, here goes. . . .

Natasha Singer (originally writing for The Gray Lady, but here reprinted regionally, over the weekend) wrote a very nice long form piece late this past week -- on the controversy surrounding the marketing of so-called "LowT" (or low testosterone) treatments -- primarily for Baby-Boomer era men. [I don't believe any Merck affiliated entity still sells a prescription low testosterone male product. I am sure the readership will remind me if Organon still does. UPDATED -- 01.20.2014 7 AM EST: A thoughtful and well-informed commenter reports that MSD still sells Sustanon®, a legacy Organon/Schering-Plough hormone product -- in a few goegraphies, outside the US. Plainly, Merck still sells other hormone-based products, for women, like the birth control hormone implant called NuvaRing®.]

Organon had a small role in "birthing" the current non-branded LowT marketing approach, so I'll mention it. Do go read it all -- as Natasha is a very-gifted writer:

. . . .More than a decade ago, a Dutch pharmaceutical company, Organon BioSciences, asked Morley to devise a screening questionnaire for symptoms common to older men with low testosterone. The way Morley recalls the drugmaker's instructions, "they said, 'Don't make it too long and make it somewhat sexy.'"

In return, he says, Organon gave $40,000 to his university for research into the effects of testosterone on muscle. Along the way, Morley's quiz acquired an official name: the Androgen Deficiency in Aging Males (or ADAM) test. . . .

The test has. . . become controversial. Most of the questions invoke symptoms that are so general that they could apply to many men who are clinically depressed or simply having a bad day — or even to women, says Dr. Adriane J. Fugh-Berman, an associate professor at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington.

"There are tests that everyone will fail — that is the idea," says Fugh-Berman, who directs PharmedOut, a Georgetown project that educates doctors about drug marketing claims. "'Do you feel tired after dinner?' Depends how long after dinner. We all do eventually. It's called sleep. . . ."

Hah! I'll likely not make much more of this -- but do go read the article. Natasha is a very accomplished med-issues journalist (and Adriane is as smart as a whip). Good reading on a cold clear Sunday morning, over your hot coffee, fresh orange juice, and flaky croissants.


Anonymous said...

Condor, thank you for sharing this interesting background. MSD still sells a few testosterone products it inherited in the merger - Sustanon is sold in countries outside of the US. Several testosterone implants were discontinued after the merger.

Condor said...

Thanks so much for the able assist, here, Anon.!

I've revised the copy above, accordingly. . .

Of course, please do stop back -- and especially today (but always, and forever) -- do teach peace.

He would have asked the same of all of us.