Propecia Hair Loss Drug Causes Permanent Impotence
Receding hairlines be gone, promised Propecia, a 1990s-era drug originally created to combat prostate cancer. As it turned out, the hormones in the drug were remarkably effective in halting or reversing male pattern baldness. Unfortunately, as baldness disappeared, so followed erections.
The regrettable side effects of the drug were a known issue, and the manufacturer included a warning about them on the drug label. However, the warning said that the side effects stopped when use of Propecia stopped. Now separate research by the Journal of Sexual Medicine and George Washington University has shown that sexual problems can linger long after people stop taking the drug. In the George Washington study, 96 percent of men said their side effects stuck around for over a year. For some, they have never gone away.
In addition to impotence, users have reported shrinking genitals, low libido and ejaculatory problems. Now plaintiffs are lining up to sue Merck, the manufacturer, for failing to include adequate warnings on its label.
“It’s obviously a devastating injury,” says Zak Jazlowiecki, a member of the firm Jazlowiecki & Jazlowiecki that is handling Propecia personal injury suits. “You can use your imagination on how crippling this is to a young man.”
The drug was popular with men in their twenties and thirties who wanted to delay the onset of baldness. While impotence is no fun for a man of any age, the effect and stigma can be particularly traumatic for the younger generation. “It’s that much more devastating for a young guy who may be trying to start a family,” Jazlowiecki says. “We’ve heard a lot of sad tales and bad stories.”
Patients who used Propecia are also reporting long-term depression and other cognitive side effects.
Plaintiffs Lining Up
Jazlowiecki filed its suit against Merck in February, and so far has over 100 plaintiffs with more on the way. The firm hasn’t yet disclosed what type of award they might seek for injured parties. Consumers who used Propecia and think they might be suffering side effects from it should contact a personal injury firm that is involved in litigation against the pharmaceutical company to evaluate their case.
Merck has denied the long-lasting effects, releasing a statement that read, “Merck believes that Propecia (finasteride) has demonstrated safety and efficacy profiles and that the product labeling appropriately describes the benefits and risks of the drug to help inform prescribing.” However, last year the FDA mandated that the label be updated to note that the sexual side effects can last even after use of the drug is discontinued.
“Our findings make me suspicious that this drug may have done permanent damage to these men,” Dr. Michael Irwig, author of the George Washington study, said to ABC News. “The chances that they will improve? I think it’s lower and lower the longer they have these side effects.”
For too many men, the stronger warning label is too little, too late. “They weren’t putting two and two together,” Jazlowiecki says. “You also figure, I don’t want to be on the drug any more, I’ll just get off of it. Once they did that and found out the symptoms weren’t going away, that’s when they realized it was a serious problem.”