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Potential side effects of the prostate drug Avodart may include an increased the risk of diabetes, erectile dysfunction and cholesterol problems, according to the findings of new research.
In a study published last week in the medical journal Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation, researchers from Boston University warn that long-term Avodart use can induce imbalance in metabolic function, which could have a wide-range of adverse health effects.
Avodart (dutasteride) was approved by FDA for the treatment of urinary problems in October 2002. The GlaxoSmithKline drug works by reducing the size of an enlarged prostate, by reducing the enzymes that turn testosterone into DHT, which is the primary cause of prostate growth. It belongs to a class of drugs known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which also includes the prostate drug Proscar and the hair loss prevention drug, Propecia.
In this new study, researchers looked at data on 460 men between the ages of 47 and 68, half of whom were treated with Avodart, and the other half of whom were treated with Flomax, another urinary retention medication often used to treat an enlarged prostate.
According to the findings, while Avodart resulted in significant improvements in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms, it was also linked to an increased risk of blood glucose levels, increasing the risk of diabetes. It was also linked to worsening erectile dysfunction and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
“We believe our findings suggest that Avodart has a negative impact on men’s overall health since it increases blood sugar and A1C and also increases blood lipids,” Dr. Abdulmaged Traish, a professor of biochemistry and urology at Boston University, said in a press release issued by the university. “The increase in blood glucose and A1C may predispose men to diabetes and the increase in lipids may predispose them to NAFLD. Most importantly, this agent worsens sexual function and reduces quality of life.”
Proscar and Propecia have also been linked to erectile dysfunction problems in the past, suggesting a class-wide effect.
In March 2011, a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine that found Propecia side effects were linked to sexual problems in men. Researchers indicated that the class of drugs known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors can cause loss of libido, depression erectile dysfunction, reduced semen production and growth of male breast tissue. They also agreed that in some cases these Proscar and Propecia sexual side effects appeared to be permanent.
Merck, the manufacturer of Propecia and Proscar has faced a number of Propecia lawsuits filed by men who allege that they have been left with permanent sexual complications, such as erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, genital shrinkage and problems with cognition.
According to allegations raised in the complaints, Merck has failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community about the link between Propecia and sexual dysfunction, which may continue long after the medication is no longer used.