Propecia, a drug developed by the Merck, was first produced as Proscar, a treatment for prostate cancer. Finasteride, which is its generic name was thought to be a treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Over the years, Merck realised that this drug also cured Male Pattern Baldness in many of its users. So they decided to call it Propecia and market it as a drug for Androgenetic Alopecia i.e. Male Pattern Baldness.
In this article we are going to understand if Propecia Really Works.
How Does it Work:
Male Pattern Baldness is majorly due to the excess DHT (Dyhydrotestosterone) in the body. This DHT binds to the receptors in hair follicles at the top of the scalp. When the hormone DHT acts on these follicles, they shrink and lose the ability to create healthy hair. The hair at the back and sides is resistant to DHT and this a pattern forms with loss of hair at the top. Due to this, the male pattern baldness is quite common in men.
Now Propecia prevents the DHT for forming and thus prevents MPB. But the effects of the drug begin to appear only after 3 months of taking this drug and they stop once the drug is stopped.
Launch and User Response:
As it happens, almost 35 million people in America suffer from this condition. Consequently, when this drug was launched, there were a number of backers for it. To give credit to it, results did begin to show with users reporting a 30% gain in hair. At one point over 400,000men in US were filling prescriptions for it. This drug is not cheap with it costing around $2 a dose with the users required to take atleast 3 doses every day for the rest of the time for which they wanted hair.
Merck released a warning with Propecia stating that it could cause some minor sexual issues but they would recede once the drugs were stopped. However, many users began to experience a loss of sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, flashes of pain in the genitals, breast enlargement and depression. This led to the US FDA investigation over the side effects of Propecia. It later on issued a detailed list of side effects which are listed below:
- Decreased Libido
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Ejaculation Disorder
- Allergic reactions, including rash, itching, hives and swelling of the lips and face
- Male Infertility or Poor quality of Semen
- Breast Enlargement or Tenderness
- Testicular Pain
- Male Breast Cancer
All of these symptoms are actually caused by the suppression of the DHT by the drug. This DHT is what also helps in the sexual wellbeing of men. If this is suppressed, then a number of sexual diseases can occur. Although the overall quantity of the men who faced such issues is very less as compared to the total number of users but they all suffer serious conditions which impede their physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Given the widespread nature of the effect on the well-being of the medicine users, a large number of effected men have initiated a country wide Lawsuit against Merck and Co. which at last count had over 700 applicants and the lawsuits are about to be heard in New York starting this October.
Does Propecia Work? To cure male pattern baldness, yes it does. But the kind of side effects it brings with it should not have to be faced by any person. It can completely shatter a man’s life.