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Propecia (finasteride)

*Est. $70 per 30-day supply
Reviewed by ConsumerSearch
Propecia (finasteride)

Best oral treatment for hair loss

Pros
  • Stops the progression of hair loss for the majority of men who take it
  • Sold in a tablet form -- no messy applications
Cons
  • Treatment must continued for the rest of the patient's life
  • Risk of sexual side effects for some men
  • Not approved for women
  • Requires prescription

Medical journals, such as Dermatology and the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, are the best sources for studies on the efficacy and safety of Propecia. Paula Begoun briefly discusses it in her book "Don't Go Shopping for Hair-Care Products Without Me," using scientific evidence as the basis of her opinions. The American Hair Loss Association also goes into great depth about the pros and cons associated with Propecia.

Reviewers say that Propecia, available only by prescription, is one of the most effective, proven treatments for male-pattern baldness. Researchers say that only hair-transplant surgery is more effective, but still recommend Propecia first because it is much more affordable and is better suited to the beginning stages of hair loss. Experts claim, in fact, that Propecia is most effective when it is taken at the first signs of thinning hair. Studies show that it is superior to minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine), but many people use both products for maximum results. Experts warn that a small percentage of men will experience sexual side effects, namely loss of libido, but suggest that all side effects disappear completely when treatment is discontinued. Propecia is not safe for women who are or may become pregnant, as even handling the tablets can result in serious birth defects.

Our Sources

1. International Journal of Dermatology

This study compares 5 percent minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine), applied twice daily, to one daily dose of 1 mg oral finasteride (the active ingredient in Propecia). Results show that finasteride is superior to minoxidil and produces more hair growth over a 12-month period.

Review: An Open, Randomized, Comparative Study of Oral Finasteride and 5 Percent Topical Minoxidil in Male Androgenetic Alopecia, E. Arca, et al, 2004

2. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

The study reported in this journal shows dutasteride to be more effective than finasteride at regrowing hair in men with androgenetic alopecia. Dutasteride, the active ingredient in Avodart, has not yet been approved by the FDA for treatment of AGA.

Review: Results of a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Study of Dutasteride vs. Finasteride, E.A. Olsen, et al, Dec. 2006

3. Amazon.com

Paula Begoun discusses the benefits of Propecia and its overall effectiveness. She also points out some of the negative side effects of this drug, but explains that they are rare.

Review: Untitled, Paula Begoun, Sept. 2004

4. American Hair Loss Association

The American Hair Loss Association discusses the discovery of finasteride, the active ingredient in Propecia, as an effective treatment for hair loss. The report explains how treatment works and suggests Propecia as a “first line of defense” for the treatment of male-pattern baldness.

Review: Men's Hair Loss: Treatment, Editors of AmericanHairLoss.org

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