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Propecia Linked to Long-Term Sexual Dysfunction in Some Men

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About a month ago reports emerged that Propecia, the drug to treat male pattern baldness, was linked to sexual side effects in men including low libido, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders. Those findings led the FDA to demand that Merck, the maker of Propecia, change the drug's warning label to reflect these dangerous side effects. However, more recent reports suggest that the side effects may be even more drastic than originally thought.

The sexual side effects may be longer lasting in some men who take Propecia, although it was originally believed that these side effects would disappear once a person stopped taking the drug. However, researchers at George Washington University found that the effects could last longer than a year after stopping the drug. In fact, after talking to 54 men under the age of 40 who had taken Propecia and stopped use, 96% reported sexual side effects a year after the fact. One man, Kevin Malley, started to take Propecia when he was under the age of 30 to stave off impending baldness. His doctor prescribed Propecia and Malley started taking it in May 2011. By October, Malley was completely impotent, had no sex drive whatsoever, and experienced a continuous mental fog. He has since lost his fiancee and his job–both of which he attributes to his use of Propecia.

Nevertheless, Merck stands by its drug and believes that it is safe and effective. Doctors who prescribe Propecia have no way of knowing whether a particular patient will respond the way that Malley did, and lead researcher Dr. Michael Irwig says that this is problematic considering these potentially life-altering side effects. Irwig acknowledges that the number of men who experienced long-term side effects is small, but that because the drug is so commonly prescribed, this would still equate to thousands of men around the world.