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The risk of long-term sexual problems with Propecia, a popular prescription hair-loss drug, continues to be a hot topic among both consumers and the medical community.
At a the World Meeting on Sexual Medicine this week in Chicago, the potential side effects of Propecia were discussed by sexual medicine experts from around the world, focusing on how long problems like erectile dysfunction and loss of libido may continue after use of the drug has stopped.
Propecia (finasteride) is a prescription medication that is marketed to help restore natural hair loss that occurs in some men. However, side effects of Propecia have been linked to sexual problems for some users, including reports of erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, genital shrinkage and problems with cognition. These issues have also been linked to severe depression and at least one man has reportedly committed suicide due to the Propecia problems.
In April, the FDA required an update to the Propecia label that included a new warning that the sexual problems could be long lasting. Before that requirement, the manufacturer, Merck, resisted providing any information on the U.S. label that suggested the side effects were anything but temporary, despite warning men in European countries that reports suggested some men experienced persistent problems even after the medication was stopped.
According to a study published in July by George Washington University researchers in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, additional evidence was highlighted that most men who report sexual problems after Propecia use show no signs of recovering within the 9 to 16 months after last use of the medication, suggesting that the sexual dysfunction may be permanent.
That the drug’s side effects were a topic of discussion at the meeting shows how high concerns have been elevated in the medical community, and that there is still not consensus on what should be done for men who have been negatively affected by the drug.
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.