GENERIC NAME: finasteride
BRAND NAME: Proscar, Propecia
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: The prostate gland is located around the tube which empties urine from the bladder (urethra). As the prostate gland enlarges, usually after 50 years of age, it can obstruct or partially block the urine flow. This leads to symptoms which include dribbling of urine, narrow stream, problems starting urine flow, interruption while urinating, and a feeling of incomplete emptying. Other symptoms include wetting and staining of clothes, urinary burning, and urgency.
Prostate gland enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH), is directly dependent on DHT (a hormone converted from the male hormone testosterone). Finasteride inhibits the enzyme necessary for the conversion of testosterone to DHT in the prostate. Therefore, administration of finasteride lowers blood and tissue DHT levels and helps reduce the size of the prostate gland.
Although reductions in the size of the prostate gland can occur in virtually all the patients who take finasteride, only 50% will experience improvement in the symptoms of BPH. Patients generally respond to finasteride in several weeks, but it often takes 6 months for the patient to receive the full effect of the drug.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Finasteride is used to treat symptoms of BPH. Finasteride is approved for use with the alpha-blocker, doxazosin, to reduce the progression of symptoms of BPH.
SIDE EFFECTS: Side effects are rare but can include impotence and decreased sex drive. Finasteride should not be used by women, children, or male partners of women trying to become pregnant. Finasteride should not be used until a thorough prostate examination has been done to exclude cancer, stricture, or infection in the gland. Rarely, cases of male breast cancer have been reported.
GENERIC AVAILABLE: yes
PREPARATIONS: Tablet (5mg).
STORAGE: Finasteride should be stored at room temperature in a tight, light resistant container.
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