87th LegislatureTexas Attorney General to Investigate Two Pharmaceutical Companies for Allegedly Promoting Puberty Blockers

The attorney general said he is investigating the companies for allegedly violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
December 14, 2021
Continuing a statewide staredown between leading Republicans on the topic of child gender modification, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced plans to investigate two companies for promoting puberty blockers.

Paxton sent out a press release on Monday evening notifying the public that his office has begun investigating Endo Pharmaceuticals and AbbVie for allegedly advertising and promoting puberty blockers to treat gender dysphoria. The release specifically names the drugs Supprelin LA and Lupron Depot, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat precocious puberty.

“These pharmaceutical companies allegedly advertised and promoted hormone (puberty) blockers for unapproved uses without disclosing the potential risks associated with these drugs to children and their parents,” the attorney general stated.

“These drugs are now being used to treat gender dysphoria even though they are not approved for such use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

Although the attorney general primarily defends the state in court, the office also investigates and prosecutes some criminal activity, especially focusing on human trafficking and internet crimes against children.

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According to the press release, Paxton claims the improper promotion of puberty blockers can count as a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, a law meant to protect consumers from misleading sales.

Paxton also attached a letter regarding puberty blockers that he sent last week to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), the state agency responsible for child protection. Although lawmakers are still awaiting Paxton’s official opinion on the legality of using puberty blockers for child gender transitions, his letter to the DFPS claims that the agency may already investigate “abuse that may occur” through the use of these treatments.

Endo claims it has not promoted its hormonal drugs for unapproved use but said it would cooperate with Paxton.

“Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. manufactures and markets Supprelin LA for the treatment of children with central precocious puberty (CPP). Vantas, indicated for the palliative treatment of advanced prostate cancer, was discontinued due to manufacturing issues and has not been a promoted product for more than five years. The company has not promoted either of these medications outside of their indications and does not promote medications for off-label uses. That being said, we intend to fully cooperate with this inquiry/investigation,” a company spokesman stated.

Abbvie did not return a request for comment by this article’s publishing time. Both companies operate globally with bases of operation outside Texas.

Republican lawmakers in the state House and Senate filed several bills to ban child gender modification in Texas. While the different bills proposed varied methods of enforcement, all would have banned genital surgeries and hormonal treatments such as puberty blockers meant to aid the gender transitions of children.

The House Public Health Committee became a sand trap for these bills. By the time the regular legislative session wound to a close, only one of them had passed out of the committee, chaired by state Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth). The bill, carried by Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), would have authorized the Texas Medical Board to discipline doctors that perform these procedures.

Krause’s bill never made it to the House floor. Low placement on the House’s agenda meant members had a lengthy backlog of other bills to work through before a midnight deadline. The bill died without a floor vote.

Governor Greg Abbott later directed the DFPS to treat genital transition surgeries as child abuse under the existing definition in the law. Shortly thereafter, a state lawmaker asked the DFPS to further broaden their interpretation of the law to include other transition procedures like puberty blockers.

Meanwhile, instead of attempting to change DFPS policy, Krause took a different tack.

As chief legal officer for the state, one of Paxton’s duties is to issue opinions that resolve questions of law. Elected officials request these opinions, which themselves carry no legal effect but act as guidance for how a court might rule on a particular subject.

Krause sent Paxton an official opinion request in August, asking whether current law might also already define child abuse to include other transition procedures like puberty blockers.

Although the DFPS said it would “promptly” treat genital surgeries as child abuse in response to Abbott’s letter, the agency and Abbott have both said that it must wait on Paxton’s official opinion before acting on puberty blockers and other procedures.

Paxton’s Monday press release signals opposition to these procedures but leaves the official request yet unresolved.

On December 10, Krause asked Paxton to expedite his request.

If Paxton opines that puberty blockers and cosmetic surgeries for the purpose of gender transition count as child abuse, the DFPS may investigate and prosecute these procedures without any action by the legislature or change in the law.

Update: This article has been updated to include a response from Endo Pharmaceuticals.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.