If baldness wasn’t frustrating enough for some people, the FDA now requires the label of the hair loss drug Propecia to include a warning about “suicidal ideation and behavior.”
But for the family of Officer Stephen Kenny, from Doraville, Georgia, it was too late.
“We’ve seen a change [the drug] Caused. Steve went from optimistic to melancholy,” Kathryn Kenny said of her son, who committed suicide in 2014 at the age of 42. “How many people like us have to read their son’s suicide note and say they Sorry to get us through this? Steve blames himself for vanity. “
Stephen has been taking Prophylaxis for four years. In 2013, three years after he stopped taking the drug, he participated in a Baylor University study on the side effects of the drug — which, according to his parents, he recognized himself.
“Insomnia, fatigue, sexual dysfunction and numbness in the pelvic area. The doctor who conducted the study at Baylor said his problems were related to finasteride,” said his father, Bob Kenney, referring to the drug’s Common name.
The original intended use of finasteride was to treat enlarged prostate glands by blocking the production of 5-alpha reductase, the male enzyme that also causes male pattern baldness. Blocking it will limit the hormone DHT and reduce hair loss.
While Merck has said Propecia has been used safely in millions of cases, some have had serious side effects — including depression, erectile dysfunction and decreased libido, and thoughts of self-harm.
“Suicidal thoughts start to appear at about five months,” an IT worker in his 50s who lives on the East Coast told The Washington Post. He took generic finasteride for 11 months before giving up on his dream of youthful hair. “The side effects started with erectile dysfunction, then I had brain fog and memory loss. Suicidal thoughts followed.
“I might do it by jumping off a bridge,” said the man, who asked to withhold his name due to self-consciousness. “I surveyed all the bridges in this country. The Golden Gate is fine, but I need something closer to home. This is a bridge in my time zone.”
The IT worker said that almost 7 years after he stopped taking it, he still has problems with ED and continues to contemplate suicide.
While he avoided discussing his suicidal thoughts with a therapist — for fear of being put on hold for 72 hours for his own safety — he did tell his son about his experience.
“One of my sons started losing hair in his 20s,” he said. “He wanted to have a hair transplant and the doctor told him to take finasteride beforehand. He brought it up to me, not knowing what I was going through, I had to tell him everything. Can you believe how embarrassing it was? But I had to protect him – he didn’t take it [pill]. “
A Merck spokesperson told The Washington Post that Merck launched finasteride, which is used to prevent hair loss, and marketed it as Propecia. It continues to support its safety and efficacy when used as labelled. Since the FDA approved Propecia in 1997, millions of men and their physicians around the world have determined Propecia is an appropriate treatment.”
According to a study published in 2020 by Michael S. Irwig, an endocrinologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, “Men under 40 years of age who use finasteride for hair loss experience persistent adverse effects , there is a risk of suicide. Effects and insomnia.” However, the study of six suicide victims added, “Further research is needed to determine whether finasteride is causally linked to suicide.”
The new warning comes as a result of a petition by the patient advocacy group Post-Finasteride Syndrome Foundation, which has unsuccessfully tried to get Propecia off the market.
“Scientific evidence does not support a causal relationship between Propecia and suicide or suicidal ideation, and these terms should not be included on the drug’s label,” Merck said in a statement to Reuters. “Merck is continuously working with regulators to ensure that potential safety signals are carefully analyzed and, where appropriate, included in the labeling of Protec.”
“They’re still marketing it and advertising it’s safe,” Dave, a 38-year-old Seattle-area paramedic, told The Post. “You think the side effects won’t happen to you, and if they do, you can quit smoking and they’ll go away. But they don’t, and I’m still pissed.”
Dave said he experienced insomnia, tinnitus, panic attacks, blurred vision and erectile dysfunction within a month of taking finasteride.
At his lowest point, he scribbled a suicide note on the prescription label for his finasteride: “This fucking ruined my life. Ask about unlisted side effects.”
He didn’t take the medication long enough to experience hair growth and gave it up on the advice of his doctor.
“When I was concerned that my side effects might be permanent, things took a turn for the worse,” he said, explaining that this happened about four months after the cessation. “I would lie in bed and couldn’t sleep. That’s when I started to feel suicidal. I engaged in self-harm. I hit myself in the legs and in the face – even though I tried to avoid my face. I had to be out in public. , don’t want to look crazy.”
Dave estimates he spent $15,000 on potential treatments. He recently started several rounds of shockwave therapy, which uses low-intensity shockwaves to increase blood flow to the penis. Dave augmented with generic Cialis, “It’s fighting ED. Suicidal ideation is being addressed as the sexual side effects are lessened. I remember crying in my room thinking if this doesn’t work, I’m dead. Shockwave Therapy saved my life.”
Unfortunately, Stephen Kenney, who took over from 2006 to 2010, didn’t have that moment of change.
“Steve was a police officer and an exercise addict; suddenly, in his first year on Propecia, he started feeling dizzy and lightheaded while running,” dad Bob told the Post.
When he also developed erectile dysfunction and depression, mum Katherine said: “Steve was worried that he wouldn’t be able to marry and have children. He started to wonder if he would be able to keep working.”
He sought treatment from doctors and psychiatrists, who prescribed drugs including Valium, but to no avail. “He failed physically and emotionally,” Bob said. “He had this desperate look after a while. I kept trying to break through and tell him things would be okay. But Steve, who oversees eight detectives, believes he’ll end up in a wheelchair or in a hospital bed. need to be taken care of.”
On September 8, 2014, the Kennys received a call from their oldest son, Mike, who had moved from Chicago to Georgia to teach and help his brother.
“Steve didn’t take a gun training session that morning,” recalls Bob. “Steve didn’t seem to be awake. So Mike walked into the house, into the bathroom, and saw Steve lying on the floor. He was hanged from the doorknob.”
In retrospect, Kathryn said, “We didn’t feel good about the drug companies. It’s really sad that a company could come out with a drug like this.”
She added that although the suicide happened eight years ago, the scars in her heart were still alive. “We kept thinking, what would Steve think, what would he do if he avoided the drug.”