Testosterone prescribing in the United States, 2002-16

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch sifted through data from one of the biggest commercial health insurance databases in the country to help characterize trends in testosterone prescribing in recent years. They narrowed their focus to men aged 30 years or older during 2002–16.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch sifted through data from one of the biggest commercial health insurance databases in the country to help characterize trends in testosterone prescribing in recent years. They narrowed their focus to men aged 30 years or older during 2002–16. With a population of patients approaching 10 million, the investigators specifically wanted to know what percentage each year were directed by a care provider to take testosterone and what share were new to the therapy—meaning that they had no testosterone use in the previous 12 months. Using an interrupted time series analysis and joinpoint analysis, they found that total testosterone use surged from 0.52% in 2002 to 3.2% in 2013. By 2016, the share was down to 1.67%. The rate of new users, meanwhile, rose from 0.28% in 2002 to 1.26% in 2013 before falling to 0.48% in 2016. New testosterone use began its downward trajectory starting in late 2013, on the heels of two studies associating it with adverse cardiovascular events and a subsequent FDA safety bulletin. Considering the debate over testosterone therapy, the study authors stress the importance of continued monitoring of prescribing trends.