Male pattern baldness drug, Propecia, may lead to permanent sexual dysfunction or depression, says national law firm, Parker Waichman LLP.
Propecia (finasteride 1mg) belongs to a class of drugs known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, or 5-ARIs. The active ingredient in Propecia can interfere with male hormones, including testosterone derivatives.
Propecia was approved in 1997 to treat male pattern baldness and, in higher doses, the drug is sold under the brand name Proscar as a treatment for men with an enlarged prostate or urinary problems.
Propecia may lead to sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction, diminished sex drive, and orgasm problems, according to two studies published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Worse, these potential complications may persist even after Propecia is stopped. Recent research also suggests that Propecia use is linked to depression. Parker Waichman LLP also warns that the effects of Merck’s male pattern baldness drug may persist for years after treatment is stopped.
Last March, the Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study linking Propecia to persistent sexual dysfunction. The researchers interviewed 71 Propecia users who reported new-onset sexual side effects such as low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, decreased arousal, and orgasm problems. Participants used Propecia for an average of 28 months; persistent sexual side effects lasted an average of 40 months from the time the drug was discontinued.
In July, the Journal of Sexual Medicine published another study confirming these prior findings. According to the study, 96% of the men studied who experienced sexual side effects after taking Propecia continued to suffer from these symptoms one year after they stopped taking the drug.
In August, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry published a study that linked Propecia to depression. For that study, researchers compared men who experienced sexual side effects for at least three months after taking Propecia to a control group who had male pattern baldness, no history of mental illness, and no exposure to Propecia; 75% of the Propecia group reported feeling symptoms of depression compared to 10% in the control group.
In April, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered new warnings for the Propecia and Proscar labels detailing possible long-lasting male sexual side effects associated with the drug. Until the FDA ordered the April label change, warnings provided to U.S. users of the drug suggested that these problems typically resolve.
As we reported previously, Merck changed the Propecia label in Europe several years ago to warn that the drug could lead to permanent erectile dysfunction.