Propecia® is the brand name for the drug finasteride when it is prescribed in 1mg doses to treat male pattern baldness. When finasteride is prescribed in 5mg doses to treat enlarged prostate it is sold under the brand name Proscar®.
The FDA approved finasteride as Proscar® in 1992. In 1997, the FDA added male pattern baldness to the drug’s indications, and Merck began selling it as Propecia® in 1mg tablets, (a smaller dose then the 5mg used in Proscar®). The pharmaceutical giant Merck currently sells and manufactures both Propecia® and Proscar®.
Propecia® works by inhibiting a man’s production of 5-alpha reductase (5a-R)–a natural enzyme present in the scalp, skin, epididymis, and prostate gland that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes male pattern baldness.
Due to its intense influence on hormones, Propecia® can cause severe birth defects in unborn children. Consequently, the drug’s label states that “women should not handle crushed or broken PROPECIA® tablets when they are pregnant or may potentially be pregnant because of the possibility of absorption of finasteride and the subsequent potential risk to a male fetus. PROPECIA® tablets are coated and will prevent contact with the active ingredient during normal handling, provided that the tablets have not been broken or crushed.”
If you have, or a loved one has, been treated for or developed one or more of these symptoms after taking either Propecia® or Proscar®, please call (888) 391-8244.