July 7, 2015 — A new study suggests that men who developed sexual dysfunction after taking Propecia are more likely to suffer from suicidal thoughts.
The study was published in Pharmacotherapy on July 1.
Researchers looked at 4,910 adverse events submitted to the FDA between 1998-2013 by men between the ages of 18 and 45 who used Propecia. These reports included 577 complaints of sexual dysfunction and 39 reports of suicidal ideation.
Over 87% (34 of 39) of men on Propecia who thought about suicide also suffered from sexual dysfunction. Six men died, 28% required medical intervention or hospitalization, and 5% had life-threatening injuries.
This is not the first time Propecia has been linked to serious mental illness. In 2012, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry published a small study involving 61 former users of Propecia who suffered from persistent sexual dysfunction. Dr. Michael Irwig found that 44% of them had suicidal thoughts and 64% had moderate or severe depressive symptoms. Comparatively, only 3% of men who had never taken Propecia experienced thoughts of suicide.
As of mid-June, over 800 lawsuits involving Propecia were centralized in Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2331) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, overseen by Judge John Gleeson.
All of the lawsuits accuse Merck & Co. of downplaying the risk of persistent sexual dysfunction and other side effects that continue long after discontinuing Propecia. More than 400 additional lawsuits are pending at the state level.
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