Propecia is a drug manufactured by Merck & Co. sold as a treatment for male pattern baldness. The active ingredient in Propecia is finasteride and it is available in other drugs such as Proscar from the same manufacturer. The class of drugs that Propecia belongs to is called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors.
The FDA has added a warning to Propecia and other 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor drugs concerning an increased risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer. While a direct link between finasteride and prostate cancer has not been established, evidence suggests that while the drug may initially prevent the growth of benign prostate tumors, it may also mask detection of early prostate cancer. The concern for this is mainly with patients who develop prostate cancer while taking Propecia for low-grade prostate tumors as this could delay timely detection and treatment.
Health Canada has warned that prescription medication aimed at treating enlarged prostate and male pattern baldness such as Proscar, Propecia and Avodart may be linked to an increased risk for developing high-grade prostate cancer. High-grade prostate cancer (Gleason score 8 to 10) is the most aggressive form of disease and spreads more quickly than low-grade prostate cancer.
Canadian health officials based their warnings after looking at the results of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) and the Reduction by Dutasteride of Prostate Cancer Events (REDUCE) trials. Researchers concluded that the long-term daily use (over 48 months) of 5mg finasteride and dutasteride in men 50 years and older was linked to a small but serious enough risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Upon this analysis, Health Canada updated the labels for Propecia, Proscar and Avodart, emphasizing that these drugs were not approved for the treatment of prostate cancer.
If you are currently taking or have taken any of these drugs, it’s best to consult your medical expert for any questions or concerns. Do not discontinue use without consulting your doctor first. In addition to this, patients who are taking these drugs should have periodic follow-up evaluations.
To find out more about the side effects of Propecia, please see our FAQ page.
If you or a loved one has suffered from sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, ejaculatory disorder, urinary problems or has been diagnosed with male breast cancer or prostate cancer as a result of taking Propecia (finasteride), or Proscar, contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation and a Propecia Lawyer can help you obtain it. Either fill out the online form or call us directly for a free, confidential case evaluation.