Propecia, with its active ingredient Finasteride, is going from strength to strength. We take a closer look.
Finasteride is used by millions to combat hair loss. Sold under the brand names Propecia and Proscar it has become the medication of choice for millions around the world. Since its original FDA approval as a treatment for prostate enlargement in 1992 and subsequent approval for use as a hair loss treatment by the same authority in 1997, it has become the 75th most prescribed drug in the USA. That success has been tempered by persistent concerns about side effects.
We have, over the years, written about these side effects. Concerns about breast enlargement (gynecomastia), loss of libido and erectile dysfunction, and more serious worries that the drug was associated with an increased rate of high-grade prostate cancers have undoubtedly stopped many men from choosing to use. Indeed, Propecia carries a warning label with regard to the cancer threat.
More recently we reported on a Korean study that followed 126 patients for 5 years looking at both efficacy and side effects, click here to read that article. The results were overwhelmingly positive in both regards. The issues around libido were found to be temporary, with no difference between the drug and the placebo after a couple of years of use. More importantly, the link to high-grade prostate cancers was found to be non-existent. An enormous relief to users of course though the label does still carry the warning.
The hair loss market in the US was estimated to be worth around $2B in 2015, and globally around $7B. That global figure is expected to rise to $11B by 2024, with the value of finasteride at a shade under $1B by then.
The growth in Finasteride sales is driven by factors beyond hair loss, factors which may actually encourage many more men to turn to the drug for their hair loss concerns. Pilot projects in Europe are screening for its benefits in reducing the risk of cancer in the colon and lung as well as the prostate. It remains in use for its original application, where it is used to reduce the size of the prostate.
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While we wait optimistically for some of the interesting research projects on new treatments to start delivering results, and marketable treatments, the reassurances on the efficacy and safety of this popular drug are great news for hair loss sufferers everywhere.
If you would like to discuss your hair loss situation with one of our team of friendly experts, simply complete our contact form on this page or click here to find your nearest clinic.