Propecia (finasteride ) a day works for male pattern hair loss. Hair loss is a huge deal for men, some of whom are willing to pay big dollars for years for their Propecia .
Daily use of Propecia for more than 3 months is necessary before benefits are observed, so it does work. but at a cost. Remember that continued use is recommended to sustain benefit and when you stop, you will see reversal of what Propecia did within 12 months. Ok now, think about the cost: Propecia is more than a dollar a day so you will be forking out more than 50 bucks a month. But wait, I have a secret for you.
Merck makes both Propecia (1 mg of finasteride ) and Proscar (5 mg of finasteride ). Proscar. unlike Propecia. is available as generic finasteride. If you can cut your finasteride tablet in three pieces, the difference in cost is striking. You can save a ton of money.
Is it worth it? Yes, Propecia (finasteride ) works. In male pattern hair loss, the balding scalp contains increased amounts of DHT compared with hairy scalp. Finasteride decreases scalp and serum DHT concentrations (DHT is what testosterone is converted to).
Is there a downside to Propecia. Not really. In controlled trials of Propecia (finasteride ) for the treatment of male pattern hair loss, discontinuation rates were similar to those taking placebo and decreased ejaculate volume was the main complaint.
Finasteride. Propecia. and Proscar are all the same medication at much different prices – ask your doctor about it.
Propecia is typically not covered by insurance, and costs about $70 – $75 per month. Merck, the manufacturer, also offers up to $60 off the first 90-day supply, and up to $200 off the fourth 90-day supply, for a savings of $260 in your first year. In contrast, finasteride is covered by most insurance plans as a Tier 1 medication – meaning you’ll pay only your lowest copay – and it can be found for as low as $10 – $20 per month.
About The GoodRx Medical Team
Dr. Sharon Orrange, MD MPH
Dr. Orrange is a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Southern California, as well as a practicing adult medicine doctor in Los Angeles. She also has a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University. She does not receive any form of compensation from pharmaceutical manufacturers for the opinions expressed here. Follow her on twitter at @orrangemd.
The GoodRx Pharmacist
Roni Bennett, PharmD CGP BCACP graduated from Duquesne University and is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Her realm of pharmacy experience includes but is not limited to retail, compounding, and specialty pharmacy. Currently she is a mentor for Strong Women Strong Girls, certified thru APhA in Medication Therapy Management and diabetes, and an active member of The Ohio pharmacists association, LGBT, and the Women’s Business Resource Group.
Elizabeth Davis is GoodRx’s medical editor and consumer savings expert. She hand-assembled the GoodRx drug database and has researched virtually every available discount program and savings opportunity.
Disclaimer: The content posted here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. GoodRx does not recommend or endorse any specific prescription drug, pharmacy or other information. We urge you to talk to your doctor before starting, changing or terminating any medical treatment.
GoodRx believes that everyone should be able to access and afford the prescription drugs they need to maintain their health.
Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar)
Finasteride is the generic form of the brand-name drug Propecia, used to prevent hair loss and promote the growth of new hair in men with male pattern baldness.
Finasteride (marketed as Proscar) is also used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. an enlargement of the prostate gland.
The drug works by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is linked to both BPH and male pattern baldness.
In 1997, Merck & Co. obtained Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) approval for 1-mg finasteride tablets, marketed as Propecia for hair loss. The 5-mg formulation is marketed as Proscar for BPH.
According to FDA trials, 83 percent of men who used finasteride for two years either saw a complete stop of hair loss, an increase in hair growth, or both.
It's unknown if this medication works for a receding hairline.
The FDA added warnings regarding the use of finasteride in 2012, stating that sexual dysfunction including erectile dysfunction (ED ) may continue even after stopping treatment.
At the time, the drug's label did warn of sexual side effects, but did not say that the problem would continue even after the medication was discontinued.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Merck by men alleging they suffered persistent sexual dysfunction.
A July 2015 study in the journal Pharmacotherapy found that men ages 18 to 45 who took finasteride reported higher-than-normal rates of suicide ideation, possibly linked to persistent sexual dysfunction.
You should not take finasteride if there is any chance that you are allergic to finasteride or any of the ingredients in the medication.
It's also important to tell your doctor if you've had an allergic reaction to a similar drug called dutasteride (Avodart ).
Men should be aware that using finasteride could increase the risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer. the most deadly type.
Tell your doctor if you have a history of prostate cancer or if you are unable to urinate.
This drug can affect your PSA (prostate-specific antigen ) levels, so tell your doctor if you are using finasteride because it decreases PSA levels.
Your PSA test results will need to be evaluated carefully.
Using this medication can also result in breast enlargement/tenderness as well as male breast cancer .
Therefore, if you are taking finasteride and notice any breast lumps, pain, discharge from your nipples, or other breast changes, contact your doctor right away. These could be signs of breast cancer.
Men have also reported decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and decreased ejaculate volume.
Others have experienced depression, testicular pain, and a variety of allergic reactions ranging from rash, itching, and hives to swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and face.
Let your doctor know if you have the following conditions:
- Liver disease or abnormal liver enzyme tests
- A bladder muscle disorder
- Stricture of the urethra
Finasteride and Women
Finasteride is approved for use only by men; women and children should never take this drug.
Since the medicine can be absorbed through the skin, women and children should not touch the tablets.
Skin absorption of even a small amount of finasteride can cause birth defects, so women who are pregnant should avoid handling broken or crushed pills.
Q: Can a woman take Propecia?
A: Currently, Propecia is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in women. According to the prescribing information, women should not handle crushed or broken tablets when pregnant or potentially may be pregnant because of the risk for dangerous effects to a male fetus. Propecia has reportedly been used “off-label” (not approved by the FDA) by some health care providers in women. If you are concerned about the use of Propecia in women you may want to contact your health care provider. For additional information regarding Propecia you may want to visit our website. http://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/propecia Beth Isaac, PharmD
Q: Can Propecia cause hair loss when stopped?
A: According to the prescribing information for Propecia, in order to sustain the benefits of the medication, treatment must be continued and routinely assessed by your health care provider. Discontinuation of Propecia has shown a reversal of the effects and hair loss within 12 months. For more information regarding stopping treatment and hair loss, you may want to contact your doctor. For additional information regarding Propecia, you may want to visit our website. http://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/propecia Beth Isaac, PharmD
Q: Will a generic version of Propecia be available in the United States any time soon?
A: Propecia (finasteride) is used to treat male pattern hair loss, which typically appears as a receding hairline and/or balding on the top of the head. Propecia is for use by men only and should not be used by women or children. The manufacturer of Propecia has a patent by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is set to expire in November 2013. At that time, other companies may begin to manufacture and sell finasteride as a generic drug after receiving approval from the FDA. Michelle McDermott, PharmD
Q: Is it safe for women to take Propecia?
A: Propecia (finasteride) is made for use by men. The only FDA-approved use for Propecia is to treat male pattern baldness. Safety and efficacy tests were conducted on men ages 18 to 41. There are warnings about women and Propecia: Women of child bearing age should not touch or handle Propecia because the medication will cause fetal abnormalities. Women should also avoid contact with crushed or broken tablets, because the medication can be absorbed through the skin. If you have questions about hair loss, talk to your doctor, and don’t take any medications not prescribed for you. Jennyfer Marsico, RPh
Q: What are the side effects of Propecia?
A: Propecia (finasteride) is typically well tolerated with side effects which are usually mild and transient. During clinical trials for the treatment of male pattern hair loss, the most frequently reported side effects of Propecia included decreased libido, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation disorder (decreased volume of ejaculate). According to postmarketing experience, reported side effects of Propecia included breast tenderness and enlargement, depression, testicular pain, male breast cancer and hypersensitivity reactions including rash, pruritis, urticaria and swelling of the lips and face. Postmarketing reports of adverse reactions are reported voluntarily and it is not always possible to establish a causal relationship to drug exposure. Although not a common side effect of Propecia, it is important to consult your health care provider immediately if any signs and symptoms of male breast cancer occur. Signs and symptoms may include breast lumps, pain, nipple discharge or other breast changes. During controlled clinical trials, 1.4% of patients discontinued treatment as a result of the occurrence of side effects of Propecia. The side effects of Propecia appeared to resolve in those men that discontinued treatment as well as most of the men who continued treatment. Propecia is indicated for the treatment of male pattern hair loss in men only. Safety and efficacy of Propecia was demonstrated in male patients ages 18 to 41. Propecia is not indicated for use in women or the pediatric population.
Q: What is the difference between Propecia versus Rogaine?
A: There are several differences between Propecia (finasteride) versus Rogaine (minoxidil) for the treatment of alopecia (hair loss). Propecia is available by prescription for male pattern alopecia only, while Rogaine is available over the counter, for both men and women. Another significant difference between Propecia versus Rogaine is the mechanism of action, or the way the medications work in the body for the treatment of alopecia. Propecia inhibits the enzyme responsible for peripherally converting the androgen testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), resulting in decreased scalp and serum concentrations of DHT. The balding scalp appears to have increased amount of DHT as compared to the hairy scalp and Propecia is believed to interfere with a key factor in the development of alopecia. The exact mechanism of Rogaine in the treatment of alopecia is unknown. However, there are several mechanisms believed to be responsible for the stimulation of hair growth. Possible mechanisms include increased cutaneous blood flow resulting from vasodilation, stimulation of resting hair follicles into active growth and stimulation of hair follicle cells. Side effects are also a marked difference between Propecia versus Rogaine. Common side effects associated with Propecia include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation disorder. Common side effects associated with Rogaine include itching and skin irritation of the treated area of the scalp. Another difference between Propecia versus Rogaine is dose and administration. Propecia is available in tablet form for oral use, may be taken without regard to meals and should be administered once daily. Typically, patients must take Propecia for three months or more before benefit is observed. To maintain the desired therapeutic outcome, continued administration is recommended and should be reassessed periodically by a physician. Discontinuation of treatment with Propecia precipitates a reversal of therapeutic effect within one year. In contrast, Rogaine is available as a solution and foam and is applied topically to the scalp twice daily. Twice daily application for greater than or equal to four months is usually required before benefit is observed. Once the desired therapeutic outcome is achieved, twice daily applications are still required to additional and continued hair growth. Some evidence indicates that discontinuation of treatment with Rogaine precipitates a reversal of therapeutic effect within three to four months.
Q: What is Propecia?
A: Propecia (finasteride) blocks the enzyme which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Increased levels of DHT appear to be a key component in alopecia. Preventing this conversion lowers the levels of DHT and is beneficial in treating male pattern alopecia (hair loss). Propecia is approved, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for the treatment of male pattern alopecia. Safety and efficacy of Propecia was demonstrated in male patients between the ages of 18 and 41 with mild to moderate alopecia of certain parts of the scalp. Propecia is indicated for use in men only and not for use in women or the pediatric population. During clinical trials, the most frequently observed adverse reactions included decreased libido, erectile dysfunction and ejaculation disorder. Postmarketing reports of adverse reactions included breast tenderness and enlargement, depression, hypersensitivity reactions including rash, pruritus, urticaria and swelling of the lips and face, testicular pain and male breast cancer. If you experience any signs and symptoms of male breast cancer, including lumps, pain or nipple discharge, it is imperative to consult your health care provider immediately. No clinically significant drug interactions have been identified with Propecia. The recommended dose of Propecia is 1 mg administered once daily. It is important for patients to take Propecia at the same time each day. Propecia may be taken without regard to meals. Patients should be advised that it may take three months or more of Propecia treatment, before results are observed and continued administration is necessary to sustain hair growth. Patients should also be periodically reassessed by a health care provider. Withdrawal of treatment with Propecia precipitates a reversal of hair growth within one year. Propecia can be absorbed through contact with skin. Propecia tablets are coated to prevent contact with the active ingredient. If tablets are broken or crushed accidentally and handled by women or children, wash the area with soap and water immediately. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not handle Propecia tablets because exposure to the active ingredient can cause serious birth defects.
Q: Is there an alternative to Propecia?
A: There are several alternatives to Propecia (finasteride) for men with hair loss. Male pattern hair loss, which runs in the family, is often times treated with hair transplant surgery or hairpieces as an alternative to Propecia. In other individuals, styling hair differently, such as dyeing hair or finding a new hairstyle may also help and is another alternative to Propecia and other pharmacological treatments. Topical Rogaine (minoxidil) is also a treatment option used as an alternative to Propecia. If hair loss is inherited, it will not begin to grow back naturally. If hair loss is secondary to stressors, a side effect caused by other medications, an underlying medical condition or hair damage, successful treatment often involves eradicating the cause to stop hair loss and precipitate the re-growth of hair. The most common type of surgery used to treat hair loss is hair transplant surgery. During hair transplant surgery, small pieces of skin with hair follicles, also referred to as grafts, are moved from areas of the scalp with full hair to areas of the scalp that have experienced hair loss. Grafts may include only single hairs or, in some cases, may involve up to 30 hairs in a single graft. Other types of surgery that may be used as an alternative to Propecia include scalp reduction or scalp flaps, but are less common than hair transplants. Other alternatives to Propecia, for the management of hair loss, are cosmetic options and do not treat hair loss or cause hair to re-grow. Some patients opt for wearing hairpieces, while others try new styling techniques or experiment with different hair products. Certain products may give the appearance to thicker hair. Some patients use hair dyes to color the scalp and/or hair. However, prolonged use of dyes may end up causing more hair loss. Rogaine is an alternative to Propecia and is available without a prescription. Rogaine is a topical treatment for male pattern hair loss and is sprayed on or rubbed into the scalp twice daily. Rogaine is currently available as a solution or foam in a 2% and 5% strength.
By Sherry Karabin | Medically Reviewed by Ruthan White, PharmD
Latest Update: 2014-09-16
Generic Finasteride Cost
Update: There are now various online sources that offer coupons with huge discounts for drugs if you are purchasing them with cash and without any insurance. One name that several of the below pharmacies’ staff members gave me is GoodRx. You need to print the coupon and take it to the pharmacy with your prescription.
Finasteride 1mg (Nongeneric = Propecia)
In November 2013, US-based Merck’s patent on hair loss drug Propecia (made up of Finasteride 1mg) finally expired. Thereafter, numerous generic versions of Finasteride 1mg have come into the US market at a small fraction of the cost of Propecia. I assume the same is true in other countries and blog readers are free to post their findings in the comments to this post. Today, I called or visited a few major pharmacies in the US to get more information on the cost and country of origin of manufacture of these generic drugs, as well as to find out the name of the company that manufactures these products. If I buy a generic drug, at the very least, I want to check out information on the company that is manufacturing the product and try to make sure that the company has not been frequently cited for bad practices or worse. Several pharmacists I talked to were uncertain about whether a company made or just packaged these products, but I tried to check my findings online and hopefully there are no errors in the below table.
Finasteride 5mg (Nongeneric = Proscar)
It should also be noted that Merck’s patent on benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH — aka prostate enlargement) drug Proscar (made up of Finasteride 5mg) expired as far back as June 2006. Thousands of people have since been purchasing generic versions of Finasteride 5mg and then cutting each pill into 4 pieces with a pill cutter (i.e. essentially taking 1.25mg of Finasteride per day to treat baldness rather than BPH). This method always works out to be a lot cheaper than purchasing generic Finasteride 1mg pills. Most hair transplant surgeons are willing to prescribe generic Finasteride 5mg pills to combat hair loss, even though the 5mg dosage has officially only been approved to treat BPH. Therefore I also decided to add information on generic Finasteride 5mg in the below table. I have been taking generic 5mg Finasteride pills for years to help my hair, although I take the 1 quarter (1.25 mg) pill every two days rather than daily. FYI — The half-life of Finasteride is 6 hours.
Generic Finasteride 1mg and 5mg prices
According to a pharmacist I talked to at Walmart, there are numerous types of discount cards available these days that will get you $50 off a prescription. She said she was not allowed to tell me where to get such cards, but they are easy to find. Also note that at Walgreens, the 30 generic Finasteride 5mg pills made by Teva Pharmaceutical (Israel) will only cost $10 rather than $84 if you enroll in the Walgreens prescription savings program for $20 per year. Other pharmacies probably also have savings programs.
Note: Prices and brands at the same pharmacy chains may vary by state. Also keep in mind that many stores will price match.
Generic Finasteride (1mg) — 30 pills
Company Name (Country of Manufacture)
Camber Pharmaceuticals (India)
Propecia (Finasteride 1mg) and Proscar (Finasteride 5mg) Prices
Note that if you do not want to take generic Finasteride, the cheapest price for 30 pills of Propecia (made by US-based Merck) is $30 at Walgreens if you are enrolled in their prescription savings program. 30 pills of Proscar (made by Merck) will also cost $30 at Walgreen’s if you are enrolled in their prescription savings program. I wish I had known about this program before! For most people, 30 pills of Proscar will last for 4 months after cutting each pill into 4 pieces and taking 1 daily. For me, it will last for 8 months, so I would rather purchase Proscar at this low price rather than generics.
If Walgreen’s stops offering this discounted price, the typical price of 30 pills of Propecia at most pharmacies is around $100 and the typical price of 30 pills of Proscar at most pharmacies is $150-$200. At that point, generics are a no brainer.
The generic pills that I currently use are the 5mg ones made by Camber Pharmaceuticals. I hope to send one of the pills to a lab to test and make sure that they are identical to Proscar. A local custom pharmacy that I contacted did not offer such a service. Perhaps I need to go and approach a university’s chemistry lab?
Photo of my generic Finasteride 5mg pill:
Everyone’s body ia different. Many of us use propecia/finasteride for maintenance of our current hairline. That is the best way to use it. Start as soon as you notice thinning, it will hold the line there. Some people experience thickening in thin spots as well, over half the users in some studies. Personally I had thick enough hair when I started using it that this was not a big concern for me. Just wanted to not lose any more, and it has worked great for that.
I have been taking Propecia (non generic) for 18 yrs, I agree with the “hold the line” comment above. It pretty much stopped by hair loss when I started it. Have experienced no negative side effects that I know of but a nice bonus is that much of my other body hair (back, butt, arms, chest, etc) has thinned dramatically as if it reapportioned that hair back to my head. Was a welcomed “side effect”.
Great to hear! Thanks and please come back to read my posts on body hair and body hair transplants when I write several soon. You will find some things interesting.
Good info admin. I appreciate the 5mg tip. I will talk to my dr this week. Thanks!
I’ve been taking Propecia 1mg for well over a decade. I don’t believe my receding hairline has grown back any, but it has stopped receding. Several years ago I tried a 90 day supply of generic from Walgreens and I felt like I started losing hair during that period, so I went back to Propecia. It certainly could be my imagination, but I have never tried generic again. A note on pricing – In Illinois, I’m getting hammered on price! A 90 day supply at Jewel is $365 and $385 at Walgreens. Crazy!
I took Merck Propecia for
15 years. Tried the generic, both Dr Reddy and Camber. First time about three years ago and was visibly losing hair after a couple months or so. Went back to Merck. Then recently decided to try the generic again since people told me they are the same thing. Again losing hair after 2 to 3 months. I’m a great believer in generics so this is very surprising to me. I hate to go back to Walmart Merck non generic due to $280 price, and they increase the price every year, for 90 pills but I guess I must
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