Regulators added warnings, the New York Post covered finasteride harms, and two influencers urged followers to avoid the drug
1. In the long war over finasteride safety, social taboos around sexuality and mental state have played an important, but overlooked role. Read about their role in this post: From the depths: why finasteride harms took decades to emerge
2. The French national drug regulator ANSM took several measures to ensure patients are better informed on risks of finasteride. A red boxed warning will be on all boxes of finasteride when prescribed for hair loss. A QR code links to an online information kit about the drug’s risks. A patient information sheet describes risks to sexual and psychological health, noting: “Side effects may persist after stopping treatment and in some cases for an indefinite period of time.” The information kit includes instructions on how to report adverse events to the agency.
The French Association for Victims of Finasteride (AVFIN) worked with ANSM over several years to call attention to the drug’s risks, propose changes, and see the proposal through to implementation (see also the Association’s News page, in French).
3. In June 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required adding a warning of ‘suicidal ideation and behavior’ to the Propecia label. This was announced in FDA’s reponse to a Citizen Petition filed in 2017. (Read more in a Reuters story: FDA requires disclosure of suicide risk for anti-baldness drug. FDA‘s response is here, with the required changes on the last page.)
4. One of the most visited pages on the Finasteride Info site was a review of research on alterations to penile and prostatic tissue associated with finasteride and dutasteride treatment. The research shows changes in penile tissue linked to finasteride and dutasteride, such as fibrosis and smooth muscle loss. The significance of this evidence is that these changes could not be psychological.
5. In informal online polls, side effect rates were nearly six times higher than rates of adverse effects in Merck’s clinical trials of Propecia. See Polls vs. official data on side effect rates.
6. Risks and harms of finasteride were covered for the first time in a high-circulation U.S. newspaper. In August, the New York Post ran the story: Propecia users claim drug causes memory loss, ED, suicidal thoughts.
7. In December, two health & fitness influencers tweeted unequivocally not to take finasteride or anti hair loss drugs, calling them ‘chemical castration’ and destroyers of men’s health and fertility. They had a combined follower count of 254,000.
In 2023, look for posts on social context, the pharma-physician alliance, and responses to recent research.
See also a 2023 mid-year update.