Nowadays, many patients turn to product websites—such as the Propecia website—for important information about their medications. A visit to the Propecia website, however, simply returns to a page that states, "This Web site is not currently available." No reason is given for the website being down, although links are included to prescribing information and patient product information.
Though it is not known why the website has been taken down—and Merck, maker of Propecia has not given any indication—some people speculate that the move is the result of litigation against Merck or because of impending additional warnings for the drugs' label. There has been no announcement about stricter warnings for Propecia, but lawsuits filed against Merck allege that Propecia products in Europe have much stronger warnings than the label in the US.
Although the warning label in the US alerts patients to the possibility of sexual side effects, the label also states that the side effects are temporary. Some studies, including those published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, indicate that this may not be the case. They suggest that some sexual side effects could be permanent or, at the very least, could last years after medication has been discontinued.
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Warning labels in Europe reportedly contain information that the sexual side effects could be permanent. Among the sexual side effects reportedly linked to Propecia are erectile dysfunction, testicular pain, over-developed male breasts and loss of libido.
Lawsuits have been filed against Merck, alleging men have suffered from side effects of Propecia and were not adequately warned about those risks. Some experts argue that the risks associated with Propecia far outweigh the benefits, because men take Propecia simply to prevent hair loss and not for a life-threatening condition.
For now, patients looking for information about Propecia will have to look beyond the Propecia website. Whether the website being down is a sign of things to come remains to be seen.