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According to the findings of a new study, problems with sexual dysfunction from Propecia often lead to depression and an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.
Propecia (finasteride) is a popular prescription medication that is marketed to help restore natural hair loss that occurs in some men. However, a number of users have reported experiencing erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, genital shrinkage and other sexual problems after taking the medication.
In a report published online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers from George Washington University found that most men who develop these long-term sexual problems from Propecia side effects also suffer depression, and many report having thoughts of suicide.
The study looked at 61 former Propecia users who suffered persistent sexual dysfunction for three months or more, and found that there was a 75% higher chance of the men suffering from depression than a control group of 29 men who had never used Propecia and suffered no sexual dysfunction. The researchers found that 64% suffered from moderate or severe depressive symptoms, and 44% experienced thoughts of suicide with the Propecia problems.
The researchers called for more studies to be conducted on the link between Propecia and depression, indicating that doctors and patients also need to be informed of the risks.
The Propecia label was just recently updated to include a warning that sexual side effects associated with use of the medication could become permanent. The updated label, requested by the FDA in April, came after years during which Merck, the manufacturer, refused to warn American men of the potential long-term sexual side effects of Propecia, despite placing a warning on some European packages.
Merck currently faces a growing number of Propecia lawsuits filed by men who continue to suffer from long-term sexual problems, alleging that the drug maker failed to adequately research the medication or warn about the risk of side effects.
Plaintiffs allege that if they had been provided with accurate information about the risk of long-term sexual dysfunction, they never would have chosen to take a prescription drug to help improve their appearance by restoring hair loss.