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.