If you are pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, our medical advisers warn you to steer clear of the drug dutasteride (Avodart and generic) since it can cause birth defects, and the risks can continue for several months after you’ve stopped taking it. (Pregnant women don’t even have to take it to be exposed to the risks—just handling the drug may cause abnormalities in male fetuses.) If pregnancy is not a concern for you, Avodart is still not a good first choice because there’s little evidence showing that Avodart is effective in treating female pattern hair loss (FPHL). Approved to treat enlarged prostate in men, and often prescribed as an "off label" treatment for male and sometimes female pattern baldness, Avodart is a type of drug known as a "hormone inhibitor" that works by blocking type I and type II of the enzyme 5a reductase, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone—a hormone that contributes to hair loss in men, and to prostate enlargement. It also reduces dihydrotestosterone levels in the scalp, which slows hair loss and increases hair growth. While Avodart showed some promise in effectively treating male pattern baldness in two large trials, there were side effects: sexual problems, including decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. Other side effects have been reported in association with Avodart, including depression, male breast enlargement, and skin reactions. that have looked at Avodart to treat hair loss in women, alone or in combination with other medications, including the similar drug finasteride (Propecia), an FDA-approved treatment for hair loss in men, have yielded some positive results. But given the many causes and contributing factors that bring about hair loss in women—for example, a diet lacking in protein, certain medications, including antidepressants and blood thinners, low estrogen, and even some potentially damaging hairstyles—combined with the limited evidence from clinical trials for Avodart’s use in women, it’s difficult to predict how well or not it would work. But most of those studies were small, and long-term safety and effectiveness for women remains unclear. S., minoxidil 2 percent (Rogaine and generic) remains the only FDA-approved treatment for female pattern hair loss. I have written about Dutasteride (brand name Avodart) many times before on this blog. It was approved by the FDA in 2002 to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostates). Although the drug has not yet been officially approved to treat hair loss in the US or EU (it was approved for that purpose in South Korea in 2010 and in Japan in 2015), there is a small chance that this could happen in 2015 or 2016 ( the US and EU were still holding off as of year-end 2017). This would be a huge development, since to date, only two drugs (Minoxidil in 1988 and Finasteride in 1997) have ever been approved by the US FDA for treating hair loss. It has been over 20 years since the last approval of a drug to treat hair loss! Based on many existing studies as well as anecdotal forum evidence, it is virtually guaranteed that Dutasteride will result in superior hair growth/regrowth in comparison to Finasteride for most people, but will also result in higher rates of side effects. However, these higher rates of side effects are unlikely to be drastic enough for the FDA to deny Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) permission to market Dutasteride for hair loss.
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