A widely used drug used to combat hair loss, called Propecia, has been linked to an increased rate of suicides, according to a US University research team.
According to PsychCentral, the research, undertaken by George Washington University, showed that some people who use the Propecia product may become depressed and even suicidal.
Propecia (finasteride), also branded as Proscar, is manufactured by the drugs company Merck. It is a prescription only medicine and contains an enzyme. It was originally developed to treat enlarged prostate.
The treatment has some reported possible side effects, as stated in the product insert, which include sexual impotence.
According to Fox News, the George Washington University research (led by Doctor Michael Irwig) connected the sexual dysfunction to the increased chance of suicide. This is because the effect of impotence can be very long-lasting and possibly permanent. Based on interviews with a small number of people (61 people who took the hair loss treatment), 7 reported being mildly depressed, 17 reported moderate depression, and 22 people stated that they were severely depressed. Of these 22 people, 5 mentioned that they had thoughts of suicide. Most of the responds had not experienced depression before taking the drug and none had experienced any sexual dysfunction.
In May 2012, as the Examiner reports, a protest took place outside the Merck & Co. led by the parents of a man who allegedly committed suicide after taking the hair treatment product.
The new findings raise important issues for drug safety and the approval of medicines.