Taking a drug like Propecia to treat hair loss shouldn’t lead to permanent sexual side effects or cancer. Our law firm is passionate about helping the large number of otherwise healthy men who have suffered (often in silence) from the serious mental, physical and sexual side effects of Propecia and the unfortunate men that have been diagnosed with cancer after taking the drug.
Update: New Study Links Finasteride to Long-Term Sexual Dysfunction
April 17, 2017 – A new study has found that men who take finasteride may experience severe sexual side effects for months or even years after they discontinue use of the medication.
The study, which was published last month in PeerJ, found that of 15,634 men exposed to finasteride who had no prior sexual dysfunction, 699 (4.5%) developed new erectile dysfunction (ED) and 210 (24.3%) developed new low libido.
Of 11,909 finasteride users who had no previous sexual dysfunction, 167 (1.4%) developed persistent ED that lasted for at least 90 days (with a median of 1,348 days) after they quit the medication.
The drugs are sold under the brand names Propecia, Proscar and Avodart, and known generically as finasteride and dutasteride. A low dose is used to stop hair loss, while the higher dose treats symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
The study also found that younger men who took finasteride or dutasteride for more than 205 days had a 4.9-fold increased risk of persistent ED compared to men who used the medications for shorter durations.
What’s the problem?
First approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997, Propecia (finasteride) is a popular prescription treatment manufactured by Merck for male pattern hair loss (MPHL). Finasteride is a highly potent inhibitor of Type II 5-Alpha Reductase, an intracellular enzyme that converts the weaker androgen, testosterone, into the more potent androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Propecia has been shown to be effective in stopping hair loss, but only when taken on a persistent, ongoing basis.
When it first hit the market, Propecia was heavily marketed with the perception that men who were losing their hair also were losing their sex appeal. Merck made the pitch that by using the drug to replace hair loss, users would regain their attractiveness and youthful appearance. It is difficult to say how many men were influenced by this approach, but Propecia’s sales figures have been consistently impressive.
Unfortunately, Propecia has been associated with a number of adverse sexual side effects in multiple controlled studies. According to research conducted at the Center for Andrology and Division of Endocrinology at George Washington University, physicians treating MPHL should discuss the potential risk of persistent sexual side effects associated with Propecia. Among the studies findings:
Subjects reported new-onset persistent sexual dysfunction associated with the use of finasteride: 94% developed low libido, 92% developed erectile dysfunction, 92% developed decreased arousal, and 69% developed problems with orgasm. The mean number of sexual episodes per month dropped and the total sexual dysfunction score increased for before and after finasteride use according to the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale (P < 0.0001 for both). The mean duration of finasteride use was 28 months and the mean duration of persistent sexual side effects was 40 months from the time of finasteride cessation to the interview date.
Propecia Side Effects
Like all prescription products, Propecia may cause side effects. However, a significant number of men reported side effects including:
- less desire for sex
- difficulty in achieving an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- decrease in the amount of semen
- ejaculation disorders
- testicular pain
- male breast cancer
- prostate cancer
- genital shrinkage
- penile fibrosis (Payronie’s Disease)
- body disfigurement
- endocrine system failure
- psychological and emotional trauma
Other, less severe side effects associated with Propecia include:
- breast tenderness
- allergic reactions
Propecia Prostate Cancer
On June 9, 2011, the FDA issued a press release warning that Propecia may increase the risk for high-grade prostate cancer, the most aggressive and deadly form of the disease. The warning was based on the administration’s analysis of two large studies – the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) and the Reduction by Dutasteride of Prostate Cancer Events (REDUCE) Trial – which showed that Propecia and other medications in the 5-alpha reductase inhibitor (5-ARI) class reduced the overall risk of getting prostate cancer but increased the chances of developing high-grade tumors. Signs and symptoms of Propecia-induced prostate cancer include:
- urinary problems (not being able to urinate; having a hard time starting or stopping the flow of urine; needing to urinate often, especially at night; weak flow of urine; urine flow that starts and stops; pain or burning during urination)
- difficulty achieving an erection
- blood in the urine or semen
- frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
Propecia Breast Cancer
In rare cases, male breast cancer has been found in Propecia users. Report any of the following signs and symptoms to your doctor immediately:
- breast lumps
- pain in the breast area
- nipple discharge
Although the overall incidence of male breast cancer in clinical trials for Propecia was not significantly increased, a higher risk of male breast cancer with Propecia use cannot be excluded.
If you are taking Propecia
Propecia is designed for the treatment of male pattern hair loss in men only, and should not be taken by women, children, or anyone allergic to any of the ingredients. If a woman who is pregnant with a male baby absorbs the active ingredient in Propecia, it may cause abnormalities of a male baby’s sex organs. If a woman who is pregnant comes into contact with the active ingredient in Propecia, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Propecia Litigation Updates
Propecia Update 5/31/12: Attorneys involved in federal lawsuits over Propecia sexual side effects met with a multidistrict litigation (MDL) judge yesterday to discuss procedural matters and the upcoming structure of the trials. To date, only 18 Propecia lawsuits have been consolidated into the MDL; however, this number is expected to grow rapidly in the near future, as Propecia attorneys continue to review potential cases on behalf of individuals allegedly injured by the drug’s side effects. Click here to learn more.
Propecia Update 5/22/12: The parents of a former Propecia user who committed suicide after suffering from persistent sexual side effects is blaming the widely-prescribed hair loss treatment for their son’s action. Twenty-two-year-old Randy Santmann killed himself in 2008 within a week of being released from a psychiatric facility, and just six months after discontinuing treatment with Propecia. “Don’t take this drug. It’s just like playing Russian roulette. It’s not worth it,” Randy’s father John Santmann said following a protest at Merck’s headquarters in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.
The Propecia protest was headed by 30-year-old Kevin Malley, who says he’s been on a hunger strike for nearly 10 days camped outside Merck’s headquarters.
Malley is the editor in charge of propeciahelp.com, a website dedicated to informing the public about the health complications associated with finasteride, the active ingredient contained in Propecia and Proscar, Merck’s popular drug used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men with an enlarged prostate.
John Santmann said Propecia made his son Randy not only impotent, but severely despondent as well.
“He wasn’t really depressed. He was in a zombie state. He didn’t want to live in this mentally crippled state. … “I think this whole thing is another example of big business getting away with murder,” he said.
Santmann, a former Propecia user who is suffering from some of the same side effects that led his son to kill himself, said the FDA’s label change is “still grossly inadequate” because it fails to mention the severe psychological complications experienced by some users.
“This is not for a medical purpose,” he said, describing Propecia’s intended use as a hair loss treatment. “It’s for a cosmetic purpose.”
Propecia Update 5/18/12: In an attempt to bring nationwide attention to the severe sexual complications caused by Merck’s blockbuster hair loss treatment Propecia, a Las Vegas man has staked himself outside the company’s headquarters in New Jersey. Kevin Malley, 30, began his self-proclaimed ‘hunger strike’ earlier this week, indicating that he had stopped eating on May 13 to protest Merck’s failure to acknowledge Propecia’s inherent dangers.
Commenting on why he decided to protest in front of Merck’s headquarters, Malley claimed that Propecia had destroyed his life since he started using the drug last year to slow his hair loss. After just five months of treatment, he said he began suffering from crippling bouts of erectile dysfunction and near complete loss of libido.
Although Malley stopped taking Propecia more than eight months ago, he says the sexual complications have remained, and that he has begun to suffer severe memory loss and spatial disorientation. Malley blames Propecia for his fiancée breaking off their engagement, as well as for losing his job due to his inability to remember or concentrate.
“I want Merck to see how their drug is destroying lives — and know that I’m just one of thousands of victims suffering across the globe,” Malley said in a press release.
Malley claims that he has attempted to contact Merck about his condition, known as post-finasteride syndrome, on numerous occasions, but was told the company could do nothing for him.
A growing number of Propecia lawsuits are being filed against Merck in courthouses around the country alleging that the company failed to adequately warn the public about the risks associated with its blockbuster drug. Many of the plaintiffs have suggested that if they had been made aware of these potential complications, they would have never taken the drug in the first place.
Propecia Lawsuit Update 5/9/12: The number of Propecia lawsuits filed on behalf of men who allegedly suffered serious sexual side effects from the drug continues to grow at a rapid pace, even as the litigation process is still in its infancy. Last month, all lawsuits involving Propecia filed in New Jersey state court were centralized before Judge Jessica R. Mayer in Middlesex County. Click here to learn more.
Propecia Lawsuit Update 4/17/12: A panel of judges has ordered that all federal Propecia sexual dysfunction lawsuits be transferred to one judge for pre-trial hearings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). At least nine such lawsuits currently pending on the federal level will be centralized into the MDL, but many more are expected in the near future. All of the claims involve similar allegations that Merck & Co. failed to adequately warn the public that Propecia could cause serious and potentially-irreversible sexual side effects.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation announced yesterday that it had decided to centralize the federal Propecia litigation before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Although the current consolidation will be limited to just nine federal Propecia lawsuits pending in courthouses around the country, experts expect this number to grow in response to Merck’s decision to update Propecia’s warning label to include information about the potential risk of persistent sexual side effects.
In addition to the federal MDL, a growing number of Propecia sexual dysfunction lawsuits have been filed at the state level. Last month, the Supreme Court of New Jersey consolidated all such claims in the state under Superior Court Judge Jessica R. Mayer in Middlesex County. Yet despite the centralization on the state level, the Supreme Court decided against designating the Propecia litigation as a mass tort.
Propecia Update 4/12/12: The warning labels of Merck’s controversial prescription drugs Propecia and Proscar will be updated to include information about sexual side effects, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday. The administration’s action came in response to its review of hundreds of adverse event reports that had been linked to the drugs. In addition to sexual side effects, both Propecia and Proscar have been increasingly associated with male breast cancer, prostate cancer, body disfigurement, and endocrine system failure.
According to the FDA, Propecia’s new warning label will include information about libido, orgasm and ejaculation disorders that persist even after patients stop taking the drug. Proscar’s warning will reportedly be limited to decreased libido. The labels of both drugs will include reports of infertility and poor semen quality that normalized when users discontinued treatment with the medications.
“Despite the fact that clear causal links between finasteride (Propecia and Proscar) and sexual adverse events have not been established, the cases suggest a broader range of adverse effects than previously reported in patients taking these drugs,” the FDA said in its statement.
The administration analyzed 421 Propecia sexual dysfunction adverse event reports from 1998 to 2011. Of these, 59 reported that the side effects lasted longer than three months after discontinuing treatment with the drug. Additionally, the FDA reviewed 131 cases of erectile dysfunction and 68 cases of decreased libido associated with Proscar from 1992 to 2010.
Propecia Sexual Side Effects Lawsuits Consolidated in NJ State Court
March 27, 2012 – All Propecia sexual side effects lawsuits filed against Merck in New Jersey state court have been assigned to a single judge for centralized case management. Later this week, a panel of federal judges will consider a similar action for all Propecia claims filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country. In addition to being linked to numerous sexual side effects, Propecia has also recently been associated with gynecomastia, male breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of New Jersey consolidated all Propecia lawsuits filed in that state under Judge Jessica R. Mayer in Middlesex County, but rejected an attempt to designate the litigation as mass tort. According to an order issued by Mayer, a preliminary meeting has been scheduled with all parties involved for April 16, 2012. Pretrial consolidation is designed to avoid duplication and prevent conflicting rulings from different judges.
Propecia Prostate Cancer Update 3/19/12: Canadian health officials are warning the public that Propecia, Proscar and Avodart may be linked to an increased risk for developing high-grade prostate cancer. New information regarding this risk has been added to Canadian warning labels for these drugs. Click here to learn more.
Health Canada: Propecia May Cause Prostate Cancer
April 9, 2012 – Canadian health officials are warning the public that the controversial prescription medications Propecia, Proscar and Avodart may be linked to an increased risk for developing high-grade prostate cancer. New information regarding this risk has been added to Canadian warning labels for these drugs. High-grade prostate cancer is a particularly aggressive form of the disease that grows and spreads more quickly than low-grade prostate cancer.
The updated safety information is based on Health Canada’s analysis of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) and the Reduction by Dutasteride of Prostate Cancer Events (REDUCE) trial. These studies independently concluded that the long-term daily use (over 48 months) of finasteride (5 mg) and dutasteride in men over the age of 50 was linked to a small but significant risk of high-grade prostate cancer. The 1 mg version of Propecia was not included in either PCPT or REDUCE, but a potential risk associated with this strength of the drug has not been ruled out.
Finasteride is currently available under the brand names Proscar (5 mg finasteride), Propecia (1 mg finasteride), and their generic equivalents. Dutasteride is available under the brand names Avodart and Jalyn, which is a combination drug containing both dutasteride and tamsulosin.
Finasteride and dutasteride are for use in men only, and under no circumstances should these drugs ever be taken by women. Proscar, Avodart and Jalyn are approved for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate that commonly occurs in men over the age of 40. Propecia is prescribed for the treatment of male pattern hair loss.
The purpose of both PCPT and REDUCE was, ironically, to provide evidence that finasteride and dutasteride had the ability to prevent prostate cancer. In the end, both trials showed that the possible benefits of these drugs in preventing low-grade prostate cancer was minimal relative to the risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer. Neither finasteride nor dutasteride have been approved for the prevention of prostate cancer in Canada.
The Canadian labels for Propecia, Proscar and Avodart have been updated in an effort to emphasize that these drugs have not been approved for the prevention of prostate cancer. According to Health Canada, updates to the generics will follow shortly.
Patients taking these drugs should consult their healthcare professional if they have any questions or concerns. Never stop taking any prescription medication without being advised to do so by your physician. Patients taking these drugs should see their doctor for periodic follow-up evaluations.
Propecia Update 3/8/12: This week, the FDA expanded its safety review into Propecia’s sexual side effects, according to an article published today in the Examiner (examiner.com). While neither the FDA nor Merck has responded to the publication’s previously submitted questions about the drug, sources close to the investigation confirm that the administration has responded to hundreds of men who have inquired about Propecia’s potential for sexual side effects. Click here to learn more.
Numerous reports and recent studies have surfaced connecting Propecia to sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, impotence, low libido, gynecomastia, breast cancer and prostate cancer. In fact, in one ground breaking study (discussed below) researchers found these staggering percentages of Propecia-induced sexual side effects: 94% developed low libido, 92% developed erectile dysfunction, 92% developed decreased arousal, and 69% developed problems with orgasm.
PROPECIA SUICIDE WARNING: Please watch this heart wrenching video about a family who is grieving over the loss of their 22 year old son who committed suicide after taking Propecia and suffering from sexual dysfunction. Do not let the depression associated with being diagnosed with sexual dysfunction destroy your life. We can help and offer a Free CONFIDENTIAL Case Review.
Propecia Lawsuit Update 2/16/12: More than 50 people from 22 states have joined a lawsuit against Merck & Co. and its subsidiaries for failing to warn the public about the dangerous side effects associated with their male pattern baldness drugs. The complaint alleges that Propecia and Proscar, which contain the active ingredient finasteride, cause an “increased risk of persistent and/or serious and dangerous side effects.” Click here to learn more.
Propecia Update 2/7/12 – Merck Pulls Content Off Propecia.com – Mounting research and numerous case studies involving the serious side effects of Propecia (finasteride) have apparently prompted pharmaceutical giant Merck to pull its content from the company’s website. Although Merck has offered no explanation for the move, many have speculated that it might have something to do with the growing number of Propecia side effects lawsuits filed against the company in recent months. Click here to learn more.
Propecia Sexual Side Effects Video Library
- CBS News Reports: Hair Loss Drug Propecia ‘Under Fire’ For Sexual Side Effects Including Erectile Dysfunction
- Financial News Network Reports: Merck Sued Over Propecia Induced Sexual Side Effects
- Video Interview & Study Results: Dr. Michael Irwig Discusses His Study, “Persistent Sexual Side Effects of Finasteride for Male Pattern Hair Loss”
- CBS News Reports: Propecia Blamed For The Suicide of 22 Year Old Who Suffered From Sexual Dysfunction
- Swedish Documentary: The Devastating Sexual Side Effects of Propecia
Additional Important Resources:
- George Washington University: A Drug’s Unintended Consequences – A recent study by GW Professor Michael S. Irwig reveals persistent and possibly permanent side effects associated with a common hair loss drug.
- Men’s Health: A Hair-Raising Side Effect – It’s a common baldness remedy, but its side effects may be more than you—or your girlfriend—can handle
- Men’s Health: The (Not So Hard) Truth About Hair Loss Drugs – Propecia may be able to save your hair, but will it cost you your sex life in the process?
Do I have a Propecia Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Propecia lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new sexual dysfunction and cancer cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one has suffered from sexual dysfunction or been diagnosed with cancer after taking Propecia (finasteride) or Proscar, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help. We offer a Free Confidential Case Evaluation.