February 28, 2012 — A new article in Men’s Journal places the prescription medication Propecia (finasteride) under increasing scrutiny, as more and more men come forward with symptoms of severe, persistent sexual dysfunction after taking the medication. Millions of men take Propecia to treat symptoms of male pattern baldness. The active ingredient in Propecia, finasteride, was initially developed as a way to shrink enlarged prostate, but one side effect was that it reduced symptoms of male-pattern baldness. Merck & Co., a pharmaceutical company, re-packaged finasteride in 1-mg doses and sold it under the brand-name Propecia.
When Merck introduced Propecia, there was scientific evidence linking finasteride to sexual health problems in some men. Even so, Merck and other health authorities may have under-estimated the actual risk.
The finasteride in Propecia treats hair-loss by inhibiting a normal enzyme in the body called 5-alpha reductase. Normally, a man’s body uses this enzyme to convert testosterone into dihyrotestosterone (DHT). In the general male population, around 50% have a genetic predisposition to lose their hair when the hair follicles come in contact with DHT. However, when taking finasteride or Propecia, a man can expect to see a 70% reduction in the amount of DHT in his body. This effectively stops hair-loss.
Testosterone and DHT are also involved in male sexual health. Most doctors assumed that when a man stopped taking finasteride, testosterone levels would gradually increase, and the sexual problems would disappear. Unfortunately, for many men, the problems did not disappear or improve over time. In fact, some expects have found that finasteride can make major changes to the brain’s chemistry, causing persistent effects.
One of the most troubling persistent effects was erectile dysfunction. After a Swedish study from 2008 found evidence that Propecia could cause persistent erectile dysfunction, health authorities in Sweden, the U.K., and Italy required that Merck update the safety labeling to include this information to warn men of the risk of persistent sexual health problems. However, even though Merck was aware of this study, the company did not make the same updates to the U.S. labeling until April 2011. Furthermore, since 2008, many men have complained of more side effects than just erectile dysfunction. However, Merck has not conducted any post-marking studies, and the company has not updated the safety labeling to include this new information.
The men who are suffering persistent sexual health dysfunction are calling their disease Post-Finasteride Syndrome. PFS can include erectile dysfunction, reduced or nonexistent sex drive, reduced sensation, reduced ejaculate, and more. Many of these men have joined online forums to discuss possible options they have moving forward. When Dr. Michael Irwig of George Washington University became aware of this forum, he recruited 71 men from all over the world who were suffering from side effects of Propecia. Dr. Irwig found that 92% had decreased sexual arousal, 94% had decreased libido, and 92% had erectile dysfunction. Even more troubling, Dr. Irwig found that some of the men suffered sexual side effects that persisted for as much as 40 months after discontinuing Propecia.
Despite the growing concern regarding the long-term safety profile of Propecia, the FDA has not issued any warnings or statements regarding Propecia since 2009, when they warned Merck for not being explicit about side effects of Propecia. Now, many men are filing Propecia lawsuits because they are angry at Merck for not doing exactly that — warning the public about potential risks.
Do I have a Propecia Lawsuit?
Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more than 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $60 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact us for a free Propecia lawsuit review.