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Hair loss, prostate drugs could mean persistent sex problems not reported in trials

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Drug trials failed to disclose side effect of prostate, hair loss drugs

Prescription drugs used to treat men's hair loss and enlarged prostate could have unintended side effects that were never reported in clinical trials.


The study that was carried out by Northwestern University researchers found the longer men take the drugs the greater the chance of erectile dysfunction.

In some instances, taking the medications finasteride and dutasteride that help urine flow could lead to sexual problems that last for months and possibly years, the study found.

Dutasteride is sometimes used to treat baldness.

Drugs worse than known health conditions that interfere with erections

Health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes are known to be risks for persistent erectile dysfunction (PED). Smoking is known to boost a man's chances of ED.

Researchers for this study found the drugs are riskier for problems with erections than any of the above health conditions; especially for younger men.

The medicines caused persistent sexual problems even when men were given Viagra or Cialis.

The finding is the first to pinpoint erectile dysfunction caused by taking finasteride and dutasteride.

Lead study author Dr. Steven Belknap, a research assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine warns: “Our study shows men who take finasteride or dutasteride can get persistent erectile dysfunction, in which they will not be able to have normal erections for months or years after stopping finasteride or dutasteride,”

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The research showed a 1.4 percent of 11,909 men taking the prescriptions - brand names Proscar, Propecia, Avodart or Jalyn - had persistent erectile dysfunction for 1,348 day after stopping the medications that was undereported in clinical trials.

According to the study authors, none of the 34 published clinical trials mentioned the severity of PED associated with the drugs, how often it occurred among test subjects or whether it was reversible.

Steven Belknap, ’82 MD, research assistant professor in Dermatology and Medicine-General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics said men assume the medications are safe, but there are many unanswered questions that were not addressed in drug trials.

Finasteride was originally developed to help men with enlarged prostate. Younger men take Propecia to prevent hair loss and it has been widely marketed.

The medication blocks the conversion of testosterone to it's strong form 5α- DHT, causing an average of 70 percent lower testosterone levels in the bloodstream.

The side effect of ED would be especially disturbing to younger men who are sold on the idea they are safely treating hair loss.

The Northwestern University team also point out clinical trials for the drugs failed to follow men long enough - 26 or the 34 trials in the research database followed men for one year but the men took the medications for more than 12 months.

More reading:

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