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Dangerous Effects of Testosterone and Topical Axiron Treatments

David W. Hodges
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Partner at Kennedy Hodges LLP practicing pharmacy error, medical malpractice and personal injury law
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Axiron is a topical testosterone medication that is applied under the armpits. Although one may relate it to roll-on deodorant, the application is a little more complex. The medication itself is an alcohol-based liquid, and therefore, cannot be simply rolled on. Instead, patients must fill a cup (which is provided) that has a flexible rim, and then gently (and slowly) rub the cup over the armpit, essentially spilling the liquid into the crevice a little at a time, until the cup is empty.

Although doctors and patients alike have had good experiences with the medication overall, some concerns have arisen. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the biggest concerns with any type of topical testosterone is the transfer risks. Since topical medication is applied directly to the skin, if others touch that area, the medication could rub off and enter the blood stream of others.

Avoiding Transfer Risks Results in Deadly Effects

The makers of Axiron (Lilly USA, LLC) have specifically attempted to decrease the likelihood of transfer problems by requiring the medication to be applied in a less than accessible area of the body. How often do you touch someone else’s armpits? However, as a result of this change, they were forced to increase the potency of the medication. Since the armpit has less surface area than the chest or back, Axiron needed to be more concentrated than normal topical treatments for the medication to be properly absorbed.

Therefore, instead of the normal one percent concentration that is in other topical treatments (Androgel and Testim), Axiron has a two percent testosterone concentration to maximize absorption. This increased concentration has raised some concerns with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as there have been reports of unexpected additional side effects. 

These effects include:

  • Urination issues – Increased urination or trouble starting your urine stream, incontinence, and weak urine flow are only some of the bladder effects that have been reported.
  • Increased risk of prostate cancer – Your doctor should check your prostate before you start taking Axiron, as well as periodically recheck your prostate while you continue to use it.
  • Decreased sperm count – Prolonged use, or heavy doses can effect sperm production.
  • Increased risk of sleep apnea – Trouble breathing while sleeping or lying down.
  • Increased risk of blood clots – Specific areas affected include the legs and lungs, which could lead to edema or deep vein thrombosis.
  • Increased risk of stroke – Blood clots can travel to the brain.
  • Increased risk of cardiac problems – Blood clots may reach the heart.
  • Death – Can occur as a result of a pulmonary edema, stroke, or heart attack.

Before applying your first dose of medication, make sure you talk to your doctor about potential side effects, concerns, and problems. Don’t be afraid—after all, it’s your future.

Is it Worth the Risks? What Do You Think?

Given the potential risks involved, do you think the FDA should be monitoring Axiron a bit closer? Should Axiron have better warning labels and guides to adequately address the risks involved with taking testosterone? Have you had a personal experience with the side effects of Axiron?

Let us know your thoughts by leaving your opinions, stories, or concerns in the comment section.  You’ll not only be helping us learn more about you and our future clients, but you may also help give a little comfort to our readers by showing them that they’re not alone in their struggles. You may even help give potential clients the confidence they need to pursue a case, and get justice for themselves and families.


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