July 7, 2015 — Men who used the hair-loss drug Propecia and experienced persistent sexual dysfunction may also be more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia published the study in Pharmacotherapy on July 1.
Conclusions were based on data on men between the ages of 18-45 years old who submitted an adverse event report to the FDA between 1998 and 2013 after taking Propecia. Out of 4,910 reports, there were 577 involving sexual dysfunction that persisted after Propecia was discontinued and 39 reports of suicidal ideation.
Nearly all of the men who had suicidal thoughts also suffered from persistent sexual dysfunction — 87% (34 out of 39). Of serious events, 43% led to disability, 28% required medical intervention or hospitalization, 5% were life-threatening, and six men died.
Propecia has been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts in other studies. One study, published by Dr. Michael Irwig in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2012, involved 61 men who had sexual dysfunction that persisted after stopping Propecia. Nearly half of them (44%) had suicidal thoughts and two-thirds (64%) had moderate or severe symptoms of depression.
Merck & Co., the manufacturer of Propecia, is now facing over 800 lawsuits in federal court, and at least 400 more in state court. Most of the cases have been centralized under U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in one federal court in New York (MDL No. 2331).