Texas Goes After Pharmas for Alleged Use of Hormone Drugs to Treat Gender Dysphoria

Ken Paxton_Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Texas’ top law enforcement official is taking aim at two drug companies over what he alleges is the advertisement and promotion of hormone blockers for children experiencing gender dysphoria, the strong desire to be a different biological sex than that assigned at birth.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton launched the investigation into Endo Pharmaceuticals and AbbVie over allegations the two companies advertised and promoted hormone (puberty) blockers for unapproved uses without disclosing potential risks to these medications to children and adults. 

In a brief statement, Paxton pointed to the off-label use of the drug Supprelin LA and Lupron Depot, which have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat children with Central Precocious Puberty (CPP), a syndrome when the puberty process begins prematurely. Additionally, the AG noted that Vantas and other forms of Lupron have been prescribed for the palliative treatment of prostate cancer.

However, Paxton stated that these drugs are being used for gender dysphoria even though they have not been approved for this indication. 

The American Psychiatric Association describes gender dysphoria as “clinically significant distress or impairment related to a strong desire to be of another gender.” The APA said that impairment could be seen in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. This may not include the desire to undergo a sex change operation. 

According to the APA website, gender identity is different from gender expression. Gender identity refers to an individual’s psychological sense of gender, while gender expression refers to how that individual “presents to the world in a gendered way.” And the APA notes that not all transgender or gender diverse people experience dysphoria.

“The manufacture, sale, prescription, and use of puberty blockers on young teens and minors is dangerous and reckless,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “These drugs were approved for very different purposes and can have detrimental and even irreversible side effects. I will not allow pharmaceutical companies to take advantage of Texas children.”

Neither AbbVie nor Endo have issued a statement regarding the attorney general’s allegations. 

In the announcement, the attorney general did not specify how the two companies are marketing these medications for off-label use. The use of drugs off-label, meaning not specifically what it was approved to be used for, is highly common. Even the FDA notes that off-label use of medications is a common and accepted medical practice. 

Under the powers of his office, Paxton has the authority to investigate conduct that he believes it “false, misleading, and deceptive” within the state of Texas. 

Paxton is also engaged in lawsuits against President Joe Biden’s recently imposed vaccine mandates. 

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