Roll-On Hormones, now on ESPN

Here’s something you don’t see every day: new drugs advertised on ESPN. Especially one you apply to your armpits.

Actual Axiron logo: Crash-test dummy with rainbow B.O.?
Source: Eli Lilly

Enter Axiron, Lilly’s new therapy for hypogonadism (decreased hormone production from the testes), a whopping dose of male sex hormone testosterone – 60 mg, compared to the normal 5-10 mg produced in the body – delivered in a convenient deodorant applicator. Lilly’s product capitalizes on its unique delivery system, but it’s actually a “me-too”: AndroGel (Unimed, Abbott) has been on the market since 2000.

Now, I don’t usually glean my drug info from sports networks, but I understand the angle – recall that Bears coaching legend Mike Ditka used to shill for Levitra. I also adore the way modern-day marketing really lasers the lingo at the target audience. Look at that brand name: AXIRON (short for ‘axillary application?’) Split down the middle, the words “Ax” and “Iron” appear, both of which imply manliness, hard work, and toughness. Allow me to suggest a few more, for when the next underarm drug rolls out:

Hammersmash | T-Power | Fueltron | Steamroller | Blasterol

Although hypogonadism appears in the official prescribing information, there’s a huge market for off-label use. Sex hormones are big business; a brief YouTube search suggests that Axiron finds applications for decreased sex drive and female-to-male transgender therapy. My favorite find? Muscle Ch3mistry (NSFW!), an online message board where bodybuilders inquire whether anyone has used Axiron as “male enhancement,” for working out, no doubt.
Readily available, skin soluble testosterone also raises some complex social issues. Lilly’s own prescribing information notes that the product can induce early onset puberty if children touch clothing saturated with delivery gel (See Section 17.2 for the gory details). And who actually sees these ads?’s own Media Kit indicates the primary users of its content are “young, affluent, male avid sports fan[s],” with a median age of 29 – perhaps the population most likely to abuse this drug for potential performance gains, exercise or otherwise.


  1. Pingback: Axiron..Has anybody ever tried this??

  2. Wow, funny story about this drug! I’m pretty sure I sat next to someone on a plane to an ACS meeting dealing with it. She had a bunch of paperwork about AndroGel (for some reason the name stuck with me) and was presumably working on how to differentiate this product from that one. Small world…

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