Home » Drug Information » FDA Approved Drugs » 1997
Medical Areas: Dermatology | Family Medicine
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The following drug information is obtained from various newswires, published
medical journal articles, and medical conference presentations.
Approval Status: Approved December 1997
Treatment Area: male baldness
Propecia (finasteride) has been approved for the treatment of
male pattern baldness. Propecia is the first drug available in pill
In men with mild to moderate hair loss, clinical trials showed
that 83% of the male patients had kept their hair or grown more
after one year of treatment.
Side effects reported in approximately 2% of patients included a
diminished desire for sex, difficulty achieving an erection, and/or
a decreased amount of semen. The drug will not be marketed for
women because safety and effectiveness have not bee established in
women, and it is associated with birth defects.
Mechanism of Action
The drug's active ingredient, finasteride, is already
approved for the treatment of prostate enlargement. It works by
blocking an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which is responsible
for the formation of dihydro-testosterone in a man's body. The
enzyme converts testosterone to DHT, and it is believed that DHT is
a key factor in male pattern hair loss. Finasteride decreases the
concentration of DHT in a man's scalp by about two-thirds.