Does Propecia Work?
Propecia has been proven to be an effective treatment for male pattern baldness in men. In clinical trials where male patients took the drug for several years, 48 percent had increased hair growth, 42 percent stopped having hair loss, and 10 percent had lost hair. Once the medicine was stopped for a year, the beneficial effects wore off. Propecia does not work in women.
Does Propecia Work? -- An Introduction
Propecia® (finasteride) is a prescription medication licensed to treat male pattern baldness. It has undergone extensive testing that has looked at its effectiveness in treating hair loss in men.
Understanding Clinical Trials
Before medicines are approved, they must go through several clinical studies where thousands of people are given a particular medicine and compared to a group of people not given the medicine. In addition to showing that the medicine is safe, the medicine must also be shown to be effective before it can be approved. The people who are not given the medicine are given a "placebo" instead. A placebo looks just like the real medicine, except it does not contain any of the medication. This allows researchers to better compare the people who are taking the medicine to the people who are not.
Does Propecia Work in Men?
Several studies have been conducted to look at whether Propecia works for hair loss in men. One study looked at using it in men for male pattern baldness with hair loss at the very top of the head. At the beginning, the men who took Propecia grew new hair, while the men who took the placebo continued to lose hair. After about a year, the increase in new hair growth stopped for the men on Propecia, and these men started to slowly lose their hair again. However, the hair loss was much slower for the men taking Propecia than for the men who were taking the placebo.
After taking Propecia for five years, 48 percent of men had increased hair growth, 42 percent had no change (the hair loss had stopped), and 10 percent had lost hair. For the men who were taking the placebo, 75 percent had lost hair after five years. Also, once men stopped taking Propecia, the beneficial effects for hair loss wore off over one year.
Propecia has also been shown to be effective in treating male pattern baldness with hair loss on the front and center of the head. However, the drug has never been shown to work for hair loss near the temples.