Propecia Lawsuits Rise as More Men Report Sexual Side Effects
By Nathan D. Williams, Staff Writer
Most men are saddened when they realize they’re going bald. Not only can the loss hair have negative impacts on a man’s social life, it’s also an obvious sign that he’s getting older. Most men don’t escape this reality – noticeable hair loss happens in over 70% of men by age 80. What’s even more startling is the fact that 40% of men will experience hair loss by the age of 35.
Rather than accepting this change though, many men suffering from hair loss seek out treatments.
Sexual dysfunction and depression
Known generically as finasteride, Propecia from Merck & Co. was initially approved in the early 90’s to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (i.e. enlarged prostate), but in 1997, the Food & Drug Administration approved a 1 milligram tablet for treating male pattern hair loss. The drug significantly reduces hair loss by blocking the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotesterone (DHT) and is the only approved oral medication for hair loss.
Over 1 million men in the U.S. have been prescribed Propecia (…or a generic equivalent) since its introduction.
Although Propecia would work in reducing the rate of hair loss, many men began experiencing more troubling issues such as sexual dysfunction and depression
Despite its popularity, many men have reported long-term side effects like erectile dysfunction, loss of interest in sex and the inability to have an orgasm. According to numbers from both the U.S. and U.K., men under the age of 40 are affected the most by this side effect.
Not only is Propecia allegedly affecting a patient’s sexual drive while on the medication, the effects seem to last long after someone stops taking it. One patient (Charles T.) profiled in Men’s Health magazine took Propecia for 6 years but stopped after he settled down into a long-term relationship. Although he had mild bouts of reduced sex drive while on the drug, his libido completely vanished a few weeks after he stopped taking it.
Research studies seem to back up Charles’ claim of reduced sex drive. In a Boston University study for example, 470 men who were given Propecia saw a reduction in testosterone levels which led to a significant drop in sex hormone production. These findings were recently published in the journal Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation.
Another study from George Washington University published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine evaluated 54 otherwise healthy men who were taking Propecia over the span of 14 months. Ninety-six percent of participants in the study were still experiencing various side effects, including changes in cognition, depression, erectile dysfunction and genital sensation.
Even more alarming is evidence suggesting these effects could be permanent or at least persist for years after someone stops taking finasteride.
To date, nearly 1,250 lawsuits have been filed against Merck & Co. alleging that the drug giant didn’t adequately warn patients about these disastrous side effects
According to a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Merck claims there are nearly 1,250 lawsuits involving around 1,500 plaintiffs pending in courts around the U.S. Over 700 of these cases have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) docket in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Cases in New Jersey have been consolidated under a multicounty litigation, or MCL.
Generally speaking, plaintiffs in these cases allege that Merck failed to adequately warn patients of the serious and often permanent side effects of finasteride. As a result, plaintiffs are seeking compensation for the pain and suffering caused by the side effects. Many plaintiffs in conjunction with their spouses are also seeking compensation for what’s known as “loss of consortium,” which can be defined as “…the inability of one’s spouse to have normal marital relations.”
While many men have come forward, there are potentially thousands more cases considering the popularity of Propecia. It can be difficult for someone to discuss sexual dysfunction, but if you’ve been using Propecia and experiencing these sorts of side effects, you’re encouraged to discuss your situation with an attorney to determine if you have a case.