In March 2015, a lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on behalf of a widow whose husband committed suicide after using the hair loss drug Propecia (finasteride). The first of its kind, the lawsuit alleges that Propecia's manufacturer, Merck & Co., failed to warn that Propecia can lead to dangerous side effects relating to suicidality and suicide ideation.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff's husband, John Pfaff, was prescribed Propecia for male pattern baldness by his dermatologist in May 2008. He discontinued the drug in 2012 after years of spiraling into a severe depression. Even after discontinuation of Propecia, he continued to suffer from a deep depression and severe insomnia. In 2013, Pfaff stepped in front of an oncoming Amtrak train and ended his life.
The lawsuit seeks wrongful death and survival action damages against Merck for the surviving members of Pfaff's family.
Finasteride, a potent 5alpha-reductase inhibitor, was initially approved for treatment of androgenic alopecia in men by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 1997.
Between January 2004 and December 2004, a finasteride study was administered by Tabriz University of Medical Sciences in Tabriz, Iran. 174 men between the ages of 20-38 were prescribed 1 mg/day of finasteride. Men with a history of a mood disorder or of any chronic disease were excluded from the study. At the study's conclusion, the results showed a significant increase of depression after 2 months of treatment.
Another study from researchers at George Washington University concluded that 36% of the study participants experienced severe symptoms of depression after taking Propecia throughout the course of the study. In addition, 44% reported suicidal thoughts. Dr. Michael Irwig, an assistant professor of medicine and one of the study researchers, stated, "The potential life-threatening side effects associated with finasteride should prompt clinicians to have serious discussions with their patients."
Men have also reported other side effects such as severe sexual side effects, anxiety, lethargy, memory loss and cognitive impairment. Even worse, Propecia has been linked to an increased risk of male breast cancer and a high grade form of prostate cancer.
Sadly, these side effects can be devastating and decrease the quality of a man's life - all because men were under the impression that Propecia was safe.
Now is the perfect time to have an experienced Propecia attorney evaluate your case. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of taking Propecia, you deserve compensation and should contact an attorney immediately.