The pharmaceuticalisation of 'healthy' ageing : Testosterone enhancement for longevity / Matthew Dunn, Kyle J.D. Mulrooney, Cynthia Forlini, Katinka van de Ven, Mair Underwood
- International Journal of Drug Policy (2021) 103159 (12 February)
- PMID: 33583680
- DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103159
The United Nations estimates that the world's population will reach 8.5 billion by 2030, and the populations of most countries are expected to grow older. This is case for many developed countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, and member states of the European Union. Older cohorts will comprise a larger proportion of overall populations, driven in part by our increases in life expectancy. An ageing population poses challenges for governments; notably, older people tend to have multiple, chronic health conditions which can place a burden of health budgets. At the same time, we are witnessing a shift in how we respond to the health needs of our populations, with global drug policy acknowledging that some substances are contributing to increased morbidity and mortality (e.g. opioids) while others may have beneficial therapeutic effects (e.g. psylocibin, cannabis). There is general agreement that as men age their levels of testosterone decrease, and there is some evidence to suggest that there have been population-level declines in testosterone which are not associated with age. Anecdotally, testosterone is accessed by men seeking to self-medicate in the belief that they are experiencing low testosterone levels. There has also been a rise in anti-ageing clinics in the United States, providing access to testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). The non-medical use of testosterone can result in a number of adverse health events, including complications from the use of black market or underground products. Placing testosterone under a new prescribing regime may address some of these concerns, but is society ready for this change, and if so, what would this regime look like? This paper will explore the issue of how society responds to enhancement for longevity, or how we increasingly use pharmaceuticals to address and prevent illness, with a specific focus on testosterone and testosterone deficiency.