Propecia (finasteride) is widely marketed as a cure for hair loss in men &mdash: male pattern baldness. Under a different name, Proscar, finasteride is also used to treat enlarged prostates. In both cases, the drug works by reducing the body’s ability to create certain male hormones. Unfortunately, this helps create two side effects that men and their loved ones would rather avoid: impotence and an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer. These serious side effects are the basis for numerous lawsuits now being pursued by Missouri Propecia lawyers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised Propecia’s label, as well as the labels of other drugs in its class (5-alpha reductase inhibitors), in June of 2011 after receiving new information on the potential prostate risk. In the study involving finasteride, men taking the drug for seven years had a reduced risk of any prostate cancer diagnosis. This was attributed to a lowered incidence of mild prostate cancers. However, those who were diagnosed showed an increased incidence of high-grade prostate cancer, which means aggressive ones. These are the most serious and high-risk cancers. To make matters worse, Propecia also reduces levels of the body chemical doctors use to detect prostate cancer, making it possible to miss a cancer diagnosis. As a result, the FDA now asks doctors to assess prostate cancer risk before prescribing Propecia and other drugs in its class.
Less deadly, but often upsetting and debilitating, are the sexual side effects of Propecia. Real users and scientific studies have shown that patients may develop reduced libido or even erectile dysfunction. In some cases, this continues even after patients no longer take the drug. While the FDA label for Propecia doesn’t carry a special warning about this, it does mention that Propecia users were more likely than placebo users to drop out of studies due to problems with libido, erection or ejaculation. The drug regulators in Sweden and the United Kingdom require labels that list persistent erectile dysfunction continuing after stopping the drug as a potential side effect.
In practice, many patients abandon Propecia after experiencing these sexual side effects, and many doctors now prefer to prescribe other drugs. Unfortunately, researchers have found the drug’s effects to persist for years after patients stop taking it. Propecia’s manufacturer, Merck, has already faced lawsuits from Missouri Dangerous Drug Attorneys representing men who believe they suffered long-term sexual dysfunction from taking Propecia. These include men under age 40 and men who didn’t take the drug for long. Sexual dysfunction may not be fatal, but it has a major effect on men’s (and women’s) quality of life, affecting their self-perceptions and their happiness as well as their relationships with others. And of course, aggressive forms of prostate cancer can be deadly.
If you suffered persistent sexual dysfunction or were diagnosed with prostate cancer after taking Propecia, you should call the Missouri Propecia lawyers at E. Ryan Bradley today to discuss how we can help. Based in St. Louis, we represent clients across the state who were hurt by Propecia and other prescription drugs. When prescription medications, or any other consumer product, carry a serious safety risk, their manufacturers are legally required to warn patients. Unfortunately, the FDA still has not ordered a special warning about the risk of long-term sexual dysfunction in patients taking Propecia. And while the FDA did order a warning about prostate cancer in summer of 2011, the drug was available for many years before. In a failure to warn suit, patients and families hurt by Propecia can claim compensation for all of their medical costs, their lost quality of life, pain and suffering and more.
In 1997, Merck & Co. introduced a drug called Propecia (also known as finasteride). This drug was originally marketed under the name Proscar, and was used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate. What became apparent as the drug was used was that is also was effective to treat male patterned baldness. Male patterned baldness is a common problem, effecting 50% or men aged 50 or older. This drug has been prescribed to over one million men since it came on the market.
Propecia is in a class of drugs called 5 alpha reductase inhibitors which help with health issues caused by a chemical in the body called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Two illnesses that are driven by DHT are prostate cancer and male patterned baldness.
Every drug has its own set of side effects. Short term and more common side effects from this drug include things like confusion, dizziness, rashes and cold sweats. Unfortunately, more troubling side effects have arisen such as sexual dysfunction and possibly an increased risk for a certain kind of prostate cancer.
The most frequent side effects associated with Propecia are:
In 2011, the FDA also released a statement that the use of Propecia may indeed reduce the likelihood of contacted low and medium grade prostate cancer, but ironically may actually increase the incidence of a serious, aggressive form of prostate cancer. This type of cancer is dangerous, difficult to treat, and quickly spreads to the lymph nodes and bones. Although no clear link has been established, the FDA requested that Merck add a warning on the label about an increased risk for prostate cancer.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration reports that there is a large incidence of adverse sexual side effects from using this drug. This is particularly prevalent in men aged 21-46. Men that took Propecia every day reported in having sexual problems that were last over a period of 40 months. Some felt relief more quickly after stopping the drug, and in other cases it appears to be permanent.
In one study, conducted by George Washington University, of the men taking the drug, 90% of them experienced sexual problems that lasted over one year after stopping the drug. The doctor in charge of the study, Dr. Michael Irwig stated that he worries that the study findings suggest that “this drug may have done permanent damage to these men.” Dr. Irwig said that doctors and Propecia users should be aware of the potential side effects, “especially if they are using it cosmetically to alter the normal aging process.”
As studies come in reporting disturbing reports of lasting and perhaps permanent sexual dysfunction, the FDA required Merck to include special warnings on their label. They required that there be specific verbiage warning the consumer of “libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders.” While Merck claimed that the sexual defect only occurred in 2% of the men taking the drug, a review in 2008 showed that the rate was 38%.
Hundreds of lawsuits against the manufacturer have been filed thus far. In addition to sexual problems, defendants also allege anxiety, cognitive impairment, depression, male breast cancer and prostate cancer. These lawsuits contend fraudulent concealment, failure to warn and negligence. In 2012, cases were transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. These cases are now being handled by Judge John Gleeson and are referred to as multidistrict litigation No. 2331.
If you or a loved one has taken this drug and have experienced serious side effects, including prostate cancer or lasting sexual dysfunction, it is important to contact a Propecia side effect lawyer from The Bradley Law Firm for advice. You could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. It is important to take prompt action, as these types of cases have strict filing deadlines. If you fail to file your claim in a timely manner, you could lose the right to pursue your case. E. Ryan Bradley offers free, confidential consultations, so you can tell us your story and learn more about your legal rights. To set up a meeting, call us today at 314-400-0000 or contact us today to find out more.
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