Propecia-Related Sexual Dysfunction Linked to Depression

The active ingredient in Propecia is finasteride, known to effectively block the hormone responsible for male pattern baldness, a common genetic form of hair loss. However, a number of studies suggest it may also have damaging effects on a man’s sexual health, including decreased sex drive and erectile problems, according to drugwatch.

Propecia was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. Before the FDA approval, manufacturer Merck & Co. released clinical trial data concerning the drug’s safety. One study showed that almost four percent of men treated with Propecia reported one or more adverse sexual side effects, compared with about two percent of men given a placebo.

Although Merck and the agency assured men that these issues were temporary and would resolve when they stopped taking Propecia, evidence later would prove the opposite. The preapproval trials were not particularly reliable, as the information was drawn from a relatively small group of participants, treated for only six months to one year, with unclear follow-up procedures. More recent investigations reveal Propecia’s sexual complications may persist even after a man stops taking the drug. The complications are irreversible in some cases, reports drugwatch.

Case of Persistent Sexual Dysfunction

For example, one case study describes a 24-year-old man who began taking Propecia in 1999. Within one week, he experienced soreness in his testicles, a lack of sex drive and was unable to achieve an erection. Some side effects disappeared when he stopped taking the drug a month later, but his sexual function never returned to normal. Eleven years later in a follow-up, he still suffered from loss of libido and erectile dysfunction. This is considered a rare situation, but for those affected, it can have a huge impact on quality of life. Men who allege they suffer persistent sexual dysfunction from Propecia use have filed approximately 1,370 lawsuits against Merck.

National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has extensive experience and success in representing clients in pharmaceutical litigation. Attorneys at the firm are available to answer questions for any individuals seeking legal information for a potential lawsuit.

New Concerns Involving Propecia

There is a possibility that use of Propecia (finasteride) has the potential for hiding a significant marker for prostate cancer, according to a report published in June in the Chillicothe Times Bulletin. Ironically, Proscar, the more potent form of finasteride, is indicated by the FDA for use in the treatment of prostate cancer.

Because of the potential for the masking of an important marker for prostate cancer, many men are not willing to use finasteride as compared with an over-the-counter product such as Rogaine, according to Dr. James Barnes of Mount Carmel Medical Group in Pickerington, Ohio.

Recent Research Including Neuropathy

In a recent report, published online in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, it was determined that post-finasteride syndrome (PFS) patients have been found to experience altered levels of critical brain-function regulators, including neuroactive steroids. The three-year study also found evidence of neuropathy of the pudendal nerve among those study participants experiencing severe erectile dysfunction. The pudendal nerve is a sensory, autonomic, and motor nerve that carries signals to and from the genital area.

A comparatively small study conducted at the University of Milan’s Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, by a team of 12 researchers, was led by Roberto Cosimo Melcangi, PhD. The study involved 16 participants with PFS with 25 control participants who did not suffer from Propecia sexual dysfunction.

In those findings was a 50 percent rate of depression amongst those suffering from PFS. Many that sought help for their hair loss with Propecia, are now seeking the aid of an attorney for help in gaining compensation for their loss of a vital part of their male identity.

Previous Studies on Finasteride

In another earlier study, Dr. Michael Irwig, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told FoxNews.com, “We set out to study these men, and while doing that initial study, a lot of the men told me they were having depression and memory problems and other cognitive changes.”

Irwig speculated the emotional and cognitive changes were due to the way finasteride works on the brain. Finasteride is in a class of medications known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which block the production of a certain hormone.

“Certainly, sexual dysfunction is linked with depression,” Irwig said. “But I think something else is going on. Finasteride blocks an enzyme in the brain and other organs that control the levels of neuro-active steroids released… It’s been shown that men and women who have depression also have lower blood levels of neuro-active steroids.”

Irwig recommended further research be done and that prescribers and potential users of finasteride be aware of potential nervous system-related side effects of the drug, reports FoxNews.com.

Legal Help for Propecia Users

If you or someone you know has been affected by negative side effects of  Propecia, you may have valuable legal rights. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact our personal injury attorneys at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).

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