One study, published in March 2011 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that not only is Propecia associated with an increased risk of side effects, but those side effects may be irreversible in some men, leading one researcher to call the medication "a life sentence" for some patients, (as quoted in USA Today; 03/13/11). Worse, the sexual side effects associated with Propecia, such as erectile dysfunction and loss of libido, can cause depression in men.
Propecia, and its stronger version, Proscar, works by blocking androgen which is linked to benign prostatic hyperplasia. By blocking androgen, the medication helps to reduce the size of an enlarged prostate. But androgen also helps with erectile function, so blocking it is linked to sexual side effects.
According to the study, eight percent of men who took finasteride, the generic version of Propecia and Proscar, reported erectile dysfunction, compared with four percent of men who took a placebo. Furthermore, 4.2 percent reported reduced libido, compared with 1.8 percent of men who took a placebo. What may concern some patients even more, however, is that in some patients, sexual side effects reportedly persisted even after the medication was discontinued.
READ MORE PROPECIA LEGAL NEWS
A lawsuit has been filed against Merck, maker of Propecia and Proscar, alleging the medications caused sexual dysfunction even after men stopped using the medications. The lawsuit alleges that Merck knew or should have known about the risk of side effects, especially since the drugs' label in Europe was changed to warn about the risk of permanent side effects.
Plaintiffs say they would not have used Propecia if they had known about the risk of side effects.