February 7, 2012 — Merck & Company has pulled content off its Propecia website with no explanation. The company is facing multiple Propecia lawsuits, brought by men who took the medication to treat male pattern baldness, and then suffered irreversible erectile dysfunction, depression, breast cancer, and aggressive prostate cancer.
The Propecia website currently reads: “Thank you for visiting propecia.com. This Web site is not currently available.” Below this, there are links to prescribing information, patient product information, information on how to enroll in the Propecia Persistent Program, and information on how to download a refund request form. The website also has a link to the FDA MedWatch website, where they encourage users to report all negative side effects. The FDA collects information on adverse events related to prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
Propeceia (finasteride) is a medication that was approved by the FDA in 1997 to promote hair growth in men. It is prescribed in 1-mg doses to help men suffering from male pattern baldness. Unfortunately, it has been linked to some severe side effects, including permanent sexual dysfunction and cancer. In response to evidence linking Propecia to high-grade prostate cancer, the FDA issued a safety warning. The labeling on the drug was also changed to warn of persistent erectile dysfunction.
The labels were not changed to include warnings about other sexual side effects, which concerns some critics. Furthermore, some critics are concerned because they believe the drug company has not done enough to warn the public and physicians about the dangers of cancer caused by Propecia. In addition to erectile dysfunction and cancer, Propecia has been linked to greatly reduced libido, testicular pain, problems with orgasms, and a condition known as “gynecomastia” that occurs when there is overgrowth of male breast tissue.
Two European countries, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have both asked the drug maker to update the safety labeling on Propecia to include warnings about the additional sexual side effects.
It is not known exactly how Propecia causes sexual dysfunction and other side effects in men. Once a man suffers these severe symptoms, his sexual function may be permanently destroyed. There is no treatment. The active drug in Propecia can permanently change the brain’s chemistry.