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Doctor Blames Propecia For Son’s Suicide

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A doctor is blaming hair-growth drug, Propecia, for his son’s suicide. Use of Propecia (finasteride), in some cases, has been linked to depression and sexual dysfunction.

Propecia is part of a class of drugs known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs), and is approved to treat male pattern baldness. A 5-mg dosage of finasteride, sold under the brand name Proscar, is marketed by Merck & Co. to treat enlarged prostate. Propecia and Proscar work by preventing the conversion of androgen testosterone to DHT, a hormone critical to male sexual performance, NewsInferno explained.

“Don’t take this drug. It’s just like playing Russian roulette. It’s not worth it,” said Emergency Room physician, John Santmann, whose son, Randy, 22, committed suicide that Santmann says is from depression due to Propecia, said The Examiner. According to Dr. Santmann, Randy become impotent and despondent due to Propecia.

“He wasn’t really depressed. He was in a zombie state. He didn’t want to live in this mentally crippled state,” Dr. Santmann said at a Propecia protest conducted by Propecia victims at Merck’s New Jersey headquarters, said The Examiner. The Propecia protest started last week when Kevin Malley, 30, began a hunger strike in protest of Merck’s failure to acknowledge Propecia’s association with significant male sexual side effects, some persisting even after the drug as been stopped. Mr. Malley hopes to call attention Propecia’s significant side effects. “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,” said Malley, wrote The Examiner. Malley was prescribed Propecia in 2011, taking the drug for five months, when he suffered total erectile dysfunction and a host of other debilitating reactions.

Typically ceasing a drug stops adverse side effect. Not so with Propecia, noted Dr. Michael Irwig, Assistant Professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine. “Finasteride is different because it can actually change the brain’s chemistry. The enzyme 5 alpha reductase is present in many areas of the brain. It is rare for a drug to have the capability to persistently change the brain’s chemistry.”

NewsInferno noted that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) just ordered new warnings for Propecia and Proscar over the drugs’ long-lasting male sexual side effects. The Propecia label was updated to include information about libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders that continued after the drug was stopped; details on decreased libido that continued after discontinuation of Proscar was added to that label. Both labels will include information on reports of male infertility and/or poor semen quality that normalized or improved after drug discontinuation.

Malley describes the label change as “still grossly inadequate” because there is no mention of the mental side effects and genital shrinking some men have experienced, said The Examiner. “Had they known the real risks, they all tell me they would have never taken the drug in the first place,” says Dr. Irwig, who authored a ground-breaking study on Propecia’s persistent side effects. The study was published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

“The FDA wants to know about all adverse reactions potentially caused by finasteride,” said an agency official. “This includes cases of patients who developed Peyronie’s [disease], anxiety, panic attacks, cognitive dysfunction, chronic insomnia, muscle wasting, and the other persistent side effects,” the agency added. The Examiner noted that “reduced exercise tolerance, weight gain with increased fat deposition, and muscle and joint aches,” are among other known side effects not mentioned on the label, citing a related medical article. The Examiner pointed out that there is no known cure for Propecia’s side effects.

As NewsInferno has pointed out, although Merck changed the European Propecia label several years ago to warn that the drug could lead to permanent erectile dysfunction, until last month, warnings provided to U.S. Propecia users suggested that the reactions usually resolve. A number of Propecia lawsuits are pending in litigation; other claims are part of a Multidistrict Litigation in the Eastern District of New York.

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