Propecia, a common medication used to treat hair loss in men, has been reported to cause serious sexual, mental and physical side effects including loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and depression. Many men who take this drug are unaware of the severity of Propecia’s side effects because they may have been led to believe by the drug’s manufacturer Merck that any sexual side effects were temporary. Instead, new studies and other reports are showing that these serious side effects can continue for months, even years, after a person has stopped taking Propecia.
Did your child suffer birth injuries after you took Propecia?
You and your family may be entitled to compensation to help pay for medical bills and emotional trauma related to Propecia.
What is Propecia?
Propecia and Proscar are brand names for finasteride, a synthetic antiandrogen that prevents enzymes from converting testosterone to dihyudrotestosterone (DHT), also called androgen or male sex hormone. In other words, Propecia, Proscar and other finasterides block DHT.
It is the high levels of DHT that are believed to be responsible for an enlarged prostate as well as prostate cancer. Additionally, it is believed that DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, which leads to male pattern baldness (MPB).
How is Propecia Used?
In 1992, the FDA approved the use of finasteride under the brand name Proscar to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also referred to as benign enlargement of the prostate (BEP).
In 1997, finasteride was approved to treat male pattern baldness (MPB) and sold under the brand name Propecia.
Dangers of Propecia, Proscar, and other Finasterides
Over the last several years, men have reported permanent sexual side effects, including impotence. Nevertheless, the drug’s manufacturer, Merck, only listed warnings about the side effects as follows:
“In clinical studies for Propecia, a small number of men experienced certain sexual side effects, such as less desire for sex, difficulty in achieving an erection or a decrease in the amount of semen. Each of these side effects occurred in less than 2 percent of men and went away in men who stopped taking Propecia because of them.”
Propecia Side Effects
Some of the common side effects of Propecia can include:
- Gynecomastia (male breast enlargement) and breast tenderness
- Dimpling of the breast skin
- Inverted nipple
- Lump in the breast or under the arm
- Persistent crusting or scaling of the nipple
- Clear or bloody discharge from the nipple
- Sore on the skin of the breast that does not heal
- Redness or swelling of the breast
- Decreased interest in sexual intercourse
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss in sexual ability, desire, drive or performance
- Decreased amount of semen
- Abnormal ejaculation
- Testicular pain
Additional Propecia side effects:
- Cold sweats
- Feeling faint or dizzy when getting up from a lying or sitting position
- Bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs or feet
- Hives, welts or itchy skin
- Rapid weight gain
- Redness of the skin or skin rash
- Swelling of the lips and face
- Tingling of the hands or feet
- Unusual weight gain or loss
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- Back pain
- Runny nose
- Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
- Stuffy nose
However, according to the package labeling, these side effects should be temporary and cease once treatment was discontinued.
A study, conducted by George Washington University professor Michael S. Irwig, raised concerns that these side effects could be permanent, even after discontinuing the drug, in at least 15 percent of men who have taken Propecia or Proscar.
The study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, included interviews with 71 men between the ages of 21 to 46 years. Results showed that 94 percent developed low libido, 92 percent developed erectile dysfunction and decreased arousal and 69 percent reported orgasm problems.
While Propecia and Proscar’s labeling in the United States continues to state that the side effects are reversible, other countries have taken steps to warn consumers. In 2008, the Swedish Medical Products agency issued a warning that the use of finasteride could result in irreversible sexual dysfunction. The United Kingdom’s Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency acknowledged reports of persistent erectile dysfunction associated with finasteride. And the Italian government required updated finasteride labeling to reflect the possibly of permanent sexual side effects.