Safety

Testosterone Products: Drug Safety Communication - FDA Cautions About Using Testosterone Products for Low Testosterone Due to Aging; Requires Labeling Change to Inform of Possible Increased Risk of Heart Attack And Stroke

UPDATE 04/15/2015. The testosterone product labels have been updated. The revised labels clarify the approved uses of these medications and include information about a possible increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients taking testosterone.

[This information is an update to the FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA Evaluating Risk of Stroke, Heart Attack, and Death with FDA-Approved Testosterone Products issued on January 31, 2014.] 

[Posted 03/03/2015]

AUDIENCE: Health Professional, Endocrinology, Urology, Family Practice, Patient

ISSUE: FDA is requiring that the manufacturers of all approved prescription testosterone products change their labeling to clarify the approved uses of these medications. FDA is also requiring these manufacturers to add information to the labeling about a possible increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients taking testosterone. FDA cautions that prescription testosterone products are approved only for men who have low testosterone levels caused by certain medical conditions. The benefit and safety of these medications have not been established for the treatment of low testosterone levels due to aging, even if a man’s symptoms seem related to low testosterone.

Based on the available evidence from studies and expert input from an FDA Advisory Committee meeting, FDA has concluded that there is a possible increased cardiovascular risk associated with testosterone use. These studies included aging men treated with testosterone. Some studies reported an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or death associated with testosterone treatment, while others did not. See the Data Summary section of the FDA Drug Safety Communication for additional details.

BACKGROUND: Testosterone is FDA-approved as replacement therapy only for men who have low testosterone levels due to disorders of the testicles, pituitary gland, orbrain that cause hypogonadism. However, FDA has become aware that testosterone is being used extensively in attempts to relieve symptoms in men who have low testosterone for no apparent reason other than aging. The benefits and safety of this use have not been established.

RECOMMENDATION: Health care professionals should prescribe testosterone therapy only for men with low testosterone levels caused by certain medical conditions and confirmed by laboratory tests. Health care professionals should make patients aware of the possible increased cardiovascular risk when deciding whether to start or continue a patient on testosterone therapy. Patients using testosterone should seek medical attention immediately if symptoms of a heart attack or stroke are present, such as chest pain, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, weakness in one part or one side of the body, or slurred speech.

Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

  • Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report
  • Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178

[03/03/2015 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]

[03/03/2015 - Comunicado de la FDA sobre la seguridad de los medicamentos - FDA]

Previous MedWatch Alert:

[01/31/2014 - Drug Safety Communication - FDA]

Page Last Updated: 05/15/2015
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