Texas launches investigation of AbbVie, Endo for alleged off-label promotion of puberty blocking drugs

Hormone blockers, used to treat children with a condition that triggers premature puberty, have also gained use by transgender kids and their parents to forestall the development of sexual features. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is taking issue with that trend.

Tuesday, Texas revealed that it is investigating makers of the drugs, Endo and AbbVie, for allegedly promoting them outside of their FDA approved use without disclosing their risks.

Puberty blocking drugs have come under scrutiny in some conservative states, including Arkansas, which voted to ban their use along with gender-changing surgery among minors, The New York Times reports. But Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the measure.  

In Texas, Paxton is employing the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act to launch the investigation. The probe centers on AbbVie's Lupron Depot plus Endo's Supprelin LA and Vantas.

The drugs are "being used to treat gender dysphoria even though they are not approved for such use," Paxton's office said in a statement. 

According to the attorney general, gender dysphoria is a "diagnosed mental disorder in which a person experiences significant distress related to a strong desire to be of another biological sex.” But according to the American Psychiatric Association, many transgender people don’t experience gender dysphoria.

AbbVie didn't respond to a request for comment. Neither did PhRMA, a trade group representing companies in the industry.

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“The manufacture, sale, prescription and use of puberty blockers on young teens and minors is dangerous and reckless,” Paxton said in a statement. “These drugs were approved for very different purposes and can have detrimental and even irreversible side effects."

In recent months, Texas has enacted legislation to restrict transgender people. In October, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that requires student athletes to play on sports teams that correspond with the sex on their birth certificates.