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New Propecia Study Finds Side Effects Are Long Lasting

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Some users of popular hair loss treatment, Propecia (finasteride), have long argued that the drug has left them with enduring, sometimes permanent, sexual side effects. Now, a new Propecia study reveals that the drug’s side effects are, indeed, long lasting. For instance, reports ABC News, Kevin Malley, who was nearly 30 when began to lose his hair, visited his doctor for hair loss treatment and was prescribed Propecia. “I looked young for my age, so I wanted to hold off my hair loss for a little bit,” Malley told ABC News. “I didn’t plan on taking Propecia for more than a year,” he added. Malley began taking Propecia in May 2011; by that October, he was fully impotent, lost his sex drive, his genitals shrank, and he lost his concentration, said ABC News. Malley’s physician advised him that the side effects would disappear if he stopped taking Propecia; however, the symptoms remained. “I kept expecting the side effects to go away, but they did not, they only got worse,” he said. The study, just published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, states that, in some men, Propecia’s sexual side effects may last months, even years, after patients stop taking the drug, said ABC News. George Washington University interviewed 54 men who were under the age 40 and who reported suffering side effects for three months or more after taking Propecia; none reported experiencing sexual, medical, or psychiatric issues prior to taking Propecia, said ABC News. All of the participants reported side effects that included erectile dysfunction; reduced sexual drive; orgasm issues; shrinking and painful genitals; and neurological problems that included depression, anxiety, and mental “fogginess,” said ABC News. In most of the men—an overwhelming 96 percent—they experienced sexual problems for more than one year after they stopped Propecia. “Our findings make me suspicious that this drug may have done permanent damage to these men,” Dr. Michael Irwig, study author, told ABC News. And, most shockingly, Dr. Irwig pointed out, “The chances that they will improve? I think it’s lower and

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lower the longer they have these side effects.” Despite more than 400 reports over 13 years reported to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)—which approved the drug in 1997—Merck, the maker of Propecia, continues to maintain that its drug is safe,

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said ABC News. Regardless, in 2011, the FDA required that the Propecia and Proscar labels be changed to warn that some patients reported erectile dysfunction that lasted in some patients even after they stopped taking the drug; this April the FDA updated the label to also include reports of libido and ejaculation and orgasm disorders. “Merck believes that Propecia (finasteride) has demonstrated safety and efficacy profiles and that the product labeling appropriately describes the benefits and risks of the drug to help inform prescribing,” the company wrote in the statement, said ABC News. The researchers point out that the doctors prescribing Propecia probably don’t know that its side effects may last for months and years, even permanently. “These things just get handed out left and right for any urinary symptoms,” Dr. Ryan Terlecki told ABC News. He is an assistant professor of urology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, who has prescribed Proscar for some patients with enlarged prostates. NewsInferno explained that Propecia is part of the drug class 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs), as are Merck’s Proscar and GlaxoSmithKline’s Avodart and Jalyn. The FDA indicates that nearly 5 million men were prescribed one of these drugs during 2002-2009. All of the drugs work by preventing the androgen testosterone conversion to DHT, a hormone critical to male sexual performance.

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