Research Both Kind, and Unkind to Propecia
Propecia finasteride has, in many ways run on a track reminiscent of Jekyll and Hyde: to wit, a drug that effectively promotes hair growth for men suffering from male pattern baldness and looking to recapture their youth and vitality, has also been associated with Propecia sexual dysfunction, over which many a Propecia lawsuit has alleged. Finasteride is also suspected as a depression trigger.
And yet, the drug that MailOnline (10/13/17) reports is used by the US president for hair growth has also been found to dramatically lower the risk of prostate cancer, according to a study recently published in The Journal of Urology in July.
According to MailOnline, the online portal of the venerable Daily Mail, researchers at Chungbuk National University in South Korea initiated a study on 1,379 patients suffering from alopecia (hair loss) in an effort to compare the efficacy of finasteride for hair growth as compared with a similar drug, dutasteride.
However, in so doing researchers arrived at an unexpected finding, according to lead author Dr. Ho Won Kang. “Overall, the low-dose treatment reduced PSA levels by 27.8 per cent relative to baseline values,” Dr. Ho wrote.
“Most patients – 79.3 per cent – showed PSA declines. Marked PSA declines were observed even after short-term treatment lasting three to six months.”
Such a finding bolsters the positions of finasteride proponents. In February of this year, the US President’s personal physician revealed in The New York Times that Donald Trump uses Propecia to maintain his hair. In fact, said Dr. Harold N. Bornstein in The New York Times (02/01/17), he uses finasteride personally to preserve his own locks.
However, finasteride has also been linked to Propecia side effects that includes, but are not limited to Propecia sexual dysfunction. Such Propecia impotence has been alleged in various lawsuits by plaintiffs regardless of age, who report loss of libido. For many, libido did not return months after stopping Propecia.
And there is new concern. As reported by JAMA Internal Medicine (05/17), a new study suggests that Propecia finasteride may also increase the risk of depression and self-harm, in men.
The study, conducted by researchers in Canada, determined that a class of drugs known as 5?-reductase inhibitors nearly double the risk of suicide and depression during the first 18 months of use. The class of medications includes Propecia and Proscar, the latter also a formulation of finasteride, but at a higher dose.
According to the study, data was mined from more than 93,000 men age 66 and older who began using 5?-reductase inhibitors (including Propecia and Proscar) between 2003 and 2013.
In the first 18 months of use, risk for self-harm increased by 88 percent, with the risk of depression increasing by 94 percent. Researchers noted that self-harm risk decreased after the first 18 months, and while depression risks continued to be elevated, they were not as high as risks observed during the initial 18-month window of study.
The study found no evidence of an increased risk of suicide.
Finasteride entered the market as Proscar in 1992, developed by Merck & Co. for the treatment of enlarged prostate. However, doctors began noticing that Proscar patients began sprouting more robust locks of hair. Following studies, a less-potent form of Proscar – dubbed Propecia – was granted formal approval for the express purpose of treating male pattern baldness.
Plaintiffs alleging Propecia side effects have accused Merck & Co. of failure to properly warn doctors and their patients about the link between finasteride and Propecia sexual dysfunction. Plaintiffs also allege that original warnings only referenced Propecia impotence as rare and reversible once medication was stopped. The product label was updated in 2012 to reflect that Propecia impotence had the potential to continue on for a period of time, once the medication was stopped.