Dutasteride (Avodart)

Dutasteride, marketed under the brand name Avodart, was initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001 for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. Dutasteride works by blocking both type 1 and type 2 5-alpha reductase enzymes, which are responsible for converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. DHT is a hormone that plays a key role in the development of male pattern baldness (MPB).

Since its FDA approval, dutasteride has been prescribed off-label for the treatment of MPB. Despite not being officially approved by the FDA for hair loss, dutasteride has shown promising results in clinical trials and is now commonly used for this purpose. It is important to note that dutasteride should only be taken for hair loss under the guidance of a licensed medical professional.

Compared to finasteride, another 5-alpha reductase inhibitor commonly used for the treatment of MPB, dutasteride has been shown to be more effective at reducing DHT levels. Finasteride primarily inhibits the type 2 5-alpha reductase enzyme, while dutasteride inhibits both type 1 and type 2 enzymes. Studies have shown that dutasteride can reduce DHT levels in the scalp by up to 90%, while finasteride typically reduces DHT levels by around 70%.

Due to its longer half-life and greater potential for adverse side effects, dutasteride is usually reserved for more resistant cases of MPB that do not respond well to other treatments. It is important to weigh the potential benefits against the risks and discuss them with a healthcare provider before considering dutasteride as a treatment option for hair loss.

As with any medication, dutasteride may have potential adverse side effects. These can include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased semen volume, breast tenderness or enlargement, and allergic reactions. Dutasteride may also affect the results of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, which are commonly used to screen for prostate cancer. Therefore, it is important to inform your healthcare provider if you are taking dutasteride or have recently discontinued its use when undergoing PSA testing.

Used for: Male Pattern Baldness