Finasteride (Proscar/Propecia)

Finasteride, known by its brand names Proscar and Propecia, is a medication originally developed by Merck as a treatment for enlarged prostate glands (Proscar). However, during clinical trials, an intriguing side effect of hair growth was observed in men with prostate problems. This led Merck and Company to pursue the possibility of developing finasteride as the first pill to treat male pattern baldness.

On December 22, 1997, the FDA approved a 1mg dose of finasteride for the treatment of androgenic alopecia in men, commonly known as male pattern baldness. Propecia became the first drug in history to effectively treat male pattern baldness in the majority of men who use it.

The success of Propecia/finasteride is attributed to its ability to specifically inhibit Type II 5-alpha-reductase, an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a more potent androgen. By effectively lowering DHT levels by as much as 60% when taken daily, Propecia can stop the progression of hair loss in 86% of men during clinical trials. Additionally, 65% of trial participants experienced a substantial increase in hair growth.

Lowering DHT levels is currently the most globally recognized and medically proven way to effectively arrest the hair loss process. As a result, the American Hair Loss Association recommends consulting with a physician about the use of finasteride as the first line of treatment for men interested in addressing male pattern baldness.

While Propecia is generally well tolerated, like all drugs, it can have side effects. Some reported side effects of Propecia include impotence, loss of interest in sex, trouble having an orgasm, abnormal ejaculation, swelling in the hands or feet, swelling or tenderness in the breasts, dizziness, weakness, feeling like you might pass out, headache, runny nose, or skin rash. It’s important to note that the sexual side effects of Propecia may persist even after discontinuing the medication, and patients should discuss any concerns with their doctor. Propecia may also cause a decrease in blood prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, which can affect PSA blood test results.

It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional before starting or discontinuing finasteride or any medication and to discuss any potential side effects or concerns. Recent data and ongoing research continue to support the effectiveness of finasteride in treating male pattern baldness, but it’s always important to stay informed about the most up-to-date information regarding the use of this medication.

Used for: Male Pattern Baldness