Gel to treat hormone deficiency launched in UK

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new hormone replacement gel, designed to treat men with testosterone deficiency, has been launched in the UK.

Tostran contains two per cent testosterone and could help men with a condition called hypogonadism, which is caused by insufficient levels of the hormone.

This can occur in men who have undergone certain operations, such as removal of the testes following testicular cancer, or who have been receiving radiation treatment or chemotherapy.

The condition also occurs in up to 12 per cent of men over the age of 40, according to the drug's manufacturer ProStrakan, and is characterised by reduced energy levels, sleeping difficulties, mood swings, weight gain, muscle loss and low libido.

Cancer Research UK has commented on suggestions that hormone replacement therapies may be linked to an increased risk of certain cancers.

Dr Anthea Martin, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "At the moment there is little research to show whether testosterone replacement therapy could increase the risk of men developing hormone-sensitive cancers such as prostate and breast cancer.

"We do know that hormone replacement therapy in women can increase their risk of developing breast, ovarian and endometrial cancers - which are driven by the hormone oestrogen.

"Any men using this gel should do so under the supervision of their doctor. They should be fully examined for any early stage cancers before starting the therapy, and while they are using it." Dr Wilson Totten, chief executive of ProStrakan, said that the launch of the gel represented "a major milestone" for the company.

The group will be rolling the product out across Europe during 2007 and are also seeking US approval for the treatment.

Dr Ian Banks, President of the Men's Health Forum, told the BBC: "In my opinion, from the evidence around now there is a good case for testosterone replacement to be used in men who have been clinically diagnosed as testosterone-deficient."

He said delivering testosterone to men had proved problematic so far - but an effective gel would potentially be very useful.