Since it was revealed that the President takes the problematic drug Finasteride, used to combat male-pattern baldness, there has been increased scrutiny regarding the drugs side affects. It has also been a surprise for many to find out that over 1,300 lawsuits have been filed against Merck, which markets finasteride under the brand name Propecia. These lawsuits all report a multitude of sexual side effects potentially associated with the drug.
Propecia is in a class of drugs called 5-alpha-reductase-inhibitors (5-ARIs) which work by blocking the conversion of testosterone to its more potent form, dihydrotestosterone. It is prescribed in a 1-milligram formulation for treatment of male-pattern hair loss. A 5 mg formulation, sold under the brand name Proscar, is commonly prescribed for the treatment of symptoms associated with enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Proscar was initially approved by the FDA in 1992. In early studies researchers found that patients taking the drug demonstrated a higher incidence of impotence, ejaculatory disorders and decreased libido. The initial studies didn’t receive much traction since Proscar was generally prescribed to older men. In 1997 the FDA approved the 1 mg formulation of finasteride, Propecia, for use in hair loss and targeted towards younger men. New attention was paid to the earlier studies and a new study in 1998 revealed that the rate of sexual dysfunction for patients taking propecia was almost double that of the placebo group.
Last year, in an even newer study, JAMA Internal Medicine, suggested that Propecia finasteride may also increase the risk of depression and self-harm in men. Conducted in Canada, researchers determined that 5-alpha-reductase-inhibitors – which include Propecia and Proscar – nearly double the risk of suicide and depression during the first 18 months of use.
In the lawsuits over Propecia and/or Proscar plaintiffs claim that they have experienced persistent sexual side effects even after they stopped taking the drugs. Approximately 50 of the plaintiffs also allege that the drug has caused or can cause prostate cancer, testicular cancer or male breast cancer.
At Saunders & Walker, we will continue to monitor and update news regarding Propecia and/or Proscar. If you or a loved one have experienced any side effects including, sexual dysfunction, depression, self-harm, or other psychological changes after taking either drug – please contact us for a free consultation.