Propecia (generic: finasteride) has become the subject of intense scrutiny following recent reports that associate the hair restoration medication with catastrophic complications. Adverse reports, following Propecia treatment, suggest an increased propensity for the development of serious sexual side effects that persist beyond the discontinuation of the drug. The volatile situation surrounding Propecia treatment has recently been exposed and may be the hottest trending topic in the pharmaceutical industry, as made apparent by a recent meeting held at the World Meeting on Sexual Medicine.
Propecia was developed by Merck and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 19, 1997. Upon its approval, Propecia was indicated to assist in the treatment of male pattern baldness on the anterior and vertex mid-scalp region. As a revolutionary topical application, Propecia soon became more popular than its predecessors and helped millions of men restore lost hair follicles.
Finasteride, the active ingredient contained within Propecia, belongs to a class of medications known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. As a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, finasteride treats male pattern hair loss by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the scalp, which prevents hair growth. DHT is a substance in the body that can shrink hair follicles until they no longer produces visible hair. Therefore, Propecia promotes steady hair growth on the scalp by eliminating the production of DHT.
However, several studies have recently exposed the dangerous side effects that may coincide with prolonged Propecia treatment. Two separate studies by prominent medical universities have recently cautioned about the serious sexual side effects, potentially permanent in nature, produced by finasteride. Researchers at the universities reported on three other significant potential side effects as well: Use of finasteride places users at an increased risk of acquiring one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of prostate cancer, may contribute to the pathophysiology of episodes of depression that have been observed following cessation of treatment, and may be the cause of male breast cancer that has been reported in users.
While each of these conditions merit significant concern, industry professions at the latest World Meeting on Sexual Medicine have focused their attention on what appears to be the persistent sexual side effects of Propecia.
Arthur Burnett, MD, of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and president of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America, said the finasteride side effect controversy is one of the highlights of this year’s World Meeting on Sexual Medicine, hosted jointly by his organization and the International Society for Sexual Medicine. The discussion of potential Propecia sexual side effects serves as the first chance for industry professionals to openly discuss this controversial topic. Results of their discussion may have an affect on the way Propecia is viewed by consumers worldwide.
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