Can We Expect Dutasteride to Be Approved for Hair Loss?

At the moment only two medicinal drugs are being approved by the FDA to treat hair loss in men (its hereditary form) and only one of them can be used in female hair loss patients. In addition, a hand-held laser device called HairMax LaserComb was recently awarded an FDA approval for its ability to promote hair growth. Everything else, whether it is other medicinal drugs, herbal extracts or dietary supplements used in hair loss cures is supposed to be of little effect if any at all. Therefore, hair restoration doctors have a few options when it comes to recommending hair loss treatments to their patients suffering from hereditary baldness also known as adrogenic alopecia.

Hereditary form of hair loss is caused by dihydrotestosterone, a naturally occurring metabolite of the male hormone testosterone, affecting susceptible hair follicles and causing their miniaturization and eventual death. Propecia, one of the two medicinal drugs approved for treating hair loss in men, works by blocking production of this metabolite so that there is less dihydrotestosterone available in the blood to hurt hair follicles. Propecia relies on its sole active substance finasteride which was originally used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia and later found to promote hair growth. There is a similar drug to finasteride, called dutasteride, which acts in the same way by blocking conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone but in a more efficient way as it is a dual 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. 5-alpha-reductase is an enzyme facilitating the conversion into dihydrotestosterone, having two isoforms and dutasteride blocks them both.

Dutasteride was subjected to all three phases of clinical testing for its use as a hair loss pill but study results have not been released to the public. Preliminary study data as well as empirical evidence gained from patients who are already using it (prescribed off-label) shows that dutasteride (Avodart) might be a more effective hair growth pill than Propecia and it might work better in the frontal scalp area where Propecia is virtually ineffective. However, the main worry are its long-lasting side effects. This chemical stays in your blood for much longer than finasteride. Therefore, the question which needs to be answered is whether the improved hair growth promoting benefits of this drug are worth the bigger risk of negative side-effects you have to put up with. We will not know this until the clinical study results have been released and since the originator of this drug GlaxoSmithKline took a silent position on this issue it is impossible to say. Nevertheless, some hair restoration doctors prescribe Avodart (dutasteride) to their male hair loss patients who have been using Propecia for years and no longer respond to it adequately.