Finasteride (brand names Proscar and Propecia by Merck, among other generic names) is a synthetic drug for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and male pattern baldness (MPB). It is a type II 5¦Á-reductase inhibitor. 5¦Á-reductase is an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Physicians use finasteride for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), informally known as an enlarged prostate. The FDA-approved dose is 5 mg once a day. Six months or more of treatment with finasteride may be required to determine the therapeutic results of treatment. If the drug is discontinued, any therapeutic benefits reverse within about 6-8 months. Finasteride may improve the symptoms associated with BPH such as difficulty urinating, getting up during the night to urinate, hesitation at the start of urination, and decreased urinary flow.
As measured by hair counts, in a five-year study of men with mild to moderate hair loss, two out of three of the men who took 1 mg of finasteride daily regrew some hair. In contrast, all of the men in the study who were not taking finasteride lost hair. In the same study, based on photographs that were reviewed by an independent panel of dermatologists, 48% of those treated with finasteride experienced visible regrowth of hair, and a further 42% had no further loss. Average hair count in the treatment group remained above baseline, and showed an increasing difference from hair count in the placebo group, for all five years of the study. Finasteride is effective only for as long as it is taken; the hair gained or maintained is lost within 6-12 months of ceasing therapy. In clinical studies, finasteride, like minoxidil, was shown to work on both the crown area and the hairline, but is most successful in the crown area.


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