From Our 2012 Archives
Propecia, Proscar: New Sexual Dysfunction Warnings
Labels Now Warn of Less Sexual Desire; Ejaculation/Orgasm, Infertility Trouble
By Daniel J. DeNoon
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
April 13, 2012 -- The baldness drug Propecia and the BPH drug Proscar may cause infertility and more sexual problems than previously thought, the FDA warns.
The main ingredient of both drugs is finasteride. Finasteride reduces male hormone activity. A dose of Proscar, used to reduce symptoms of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), has five times more finasteride than a dose of Propecia, used to reduce male pattern hair loss.
Both drugs are known to cause erectile dysfunction in some men. The drugs' labels already carry this warning.
Now labels on both drugs will include new warnings:
Propecia, Proscar Sexual Side Effects Rare
There's no definitive proof that either Propecia or Proscar actually causes these problems. But the FDA has received enough reports of these side effects to cause concern.
Even if the drugs do cause these sexual side effects, they've been reported in only a small number of men. For example, in Propecia clinical trials, 3.8% of men taking the drug and 2.1% of men getting an inactive placebo reported sexual problems.
Moreover, the warnings are based on relatively small numbers of reported problems.
Patients taking either Propecia or Proscar should talk with their doctors if they are worried about the new warnings. Men suffering sexual dysfunction or having fertility problems should consult their doctors and report the side effects to the FDA MedWatch program either online or at 800-332-1088.
Proscar and Propecia are both brand-name drugs from Merck. Generic versions of both drugs are available.
SOURCE: FDA web site, "Questions and Answers: Finasteride Label Changes," April 11, 2012.