Prostate drug may soon be approved for hair growth
March 21, 1997
Web posted at: 3:50 p.m. EST (2050 GMT)
From Corespondent Dan Rutz
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A drug used to treat men's enlarged
prostates may soon become the first pill approved by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration for hair growth.
Pharmaceutical company Merck is hoping to gain approval of
what would become the second scientifically proven treatment
for hair loss.
The drug, known as finasteride, or Proscar, interferes with
the male hormones responsible for enlarged prostates and the
most common forms of baldness.
To list and advertise finasteride as a legitimate hair loss
treatment, Merck must prove that it works. In more than four
years of testing of 2,000 men, nearly half have reported a
noticeable gain in new hair growth.
"You're probably going to have to wait six months before you
see a change as far as growing hair," said Dr. William Cox,
one of many doctors offering Proscar to balding patients even
though the FDA hasn't approved it -- a legal practice known
as off-label prescription.
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If approved, the drug would be prepared in a smaller dosage
than for prostate patients, and renamed Propecia. The
experiments have shown that it works just as well at a third
of the strength given to prostate patients.
However, some men, especially older patients, reported a
decrease in libido while on the drug. Researchers said the
side effect is not as common in younger patients, who were
the ones most likely to gain hair with the new treatment.
Minoxidil, a topical solution for baldness, is currently the
only FDA approved treatment for hair growth. Researchers have
cautioned that Propecia is not likely to show dramatic
Barber Troy Satterfield has taken the drug for five months
and has noticed some new growth.
"I definitely had a noticeable difference in the back of my
crown area," Satterfield said.
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