“I also suffer from anxiety attacks and insomnia as well as erectile dysfunction (ED),” says Larry (not his real name). Larry rues the day that his vanity led him to take the baldness drug Propecia. He could easily live without hair.
Of course ED is something that both partners suffer from. Anita (not her real name) says that she and her husband are contemplating divorce. “As well, Propecia sexual dysfunction has caused my husband to suffer from severe depression,” she says. “We have lost all intimacy and now he may lose his entire family just because he was afraid of losing his hair.”
Lawsuits against Merck, the maker of Propecia, claim that the drug causes sexual side effects that persist even after patients stop using the drug. Some of the alleged side effects are loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and infertility. Propecia’s warning label mentions sexual side effects but Merck used to say that they “cleared up upon discontinuation of use.” Anita and Larry and hundreds of other Propecia users argue that Propecia ED has not “cleared up.”
Tony (name withheld), says he took Propecia on and off for the past five or six years. “It’s been about a year now since I last took it,” he says. “I can’t get a sustainable erection and I’m only 28 years old. I can barely get an erection, and on the off-chance that I do, it only lasts a few seconds.”
It wasn’t until April 2012 that Merck finally changed its label to warn that sexual problems may continue even after a patient stops taking the drug. Its safety labeling changes regarding Propecia side effects were approved by the FDA (last updated May 23, 2012): Sexual dysfunction that continued after discontinuation of treatment, including erectile dysfunction, libido disorders, ejaculation disorders and orgasm disorders; male infertility and/or poor seminal quality.
Last month (April 2013), a judge in British Columbia ruled that men who suffered ongoing erectile dysfunction after taking Propecia and Proscar, two drugs that contain the medication finasteride (and both drugs prescribed to treat prostate problems and male pattern baldness), will be able to pursue a class-action lawsuit against Merck. The lawsuit was brought by Michael Miller against Merck Frosst Canada.
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Six years ago, Swedish officials asked Merck to include in the warning the possibility of persistent erectile dysfunction continuing after use discontinued. Merck complied in 2008, but failed to include the warning in the US and Canada. A Propecia Canada lawsuit similar to that of Miller’s was filed in 2011 in Ontario Superior Court.
According to court data updated on March 5, 2013, by the US Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (MDL), there are 140 actions pending in the Propecia MDL (U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York).