Finasteride

Posted on February 5th, 2013 by

Class: Hormonal therapy

Generic Name: Finasteride

Trade Name: Proscar®

How is this drug used? Proscar® (finasteride) is used alone or in combination with another drug—doxazosin—to treat symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men with an enlarged prostate. Proscar is used to improve symptoms, reduce the risk of sudden inability to pass urine, and reduce the need for surgery related to BPH.

What is the mechanism of action? Proscar lowers the levels of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT plays a role in prostate growth. Lowering DHT levels can cause the prostate to shrink.

How is Proscar given (administered)? Proscar is a tablet that is taken orally (by mouth).

How are patients monitored? Patients will usually have scheduled meetings with their healthcare provider while they are being treated with Proscar. Patients may also undergo physical examinations, blood tests, or other measures to assess side effects and response to therapy.

What are the most common side effects of treatment with Proscar?

  • Trouble getting or keeping an erection
  • Decrease in sex drive
  • Decrease in amount of ejaculate
  • Problems with ejaculation
  • Breast enlargement (report breast lumps, pain, or nipple discharge to your physician)

What are some of the other potential side effects of Proscar?

  • Proscar may increase the risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer
  • Allergic reactions
  • Testicular pain
  • Problems with erections, ejaculations, or sex drive that persist after treatment ends
  • Male infertility
  • Depression
  • Male breast cancer

This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.

Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.

What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?

  • Pay careful attention to the physician’s instructions, and discuss side effects with your physician.

Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?

  • Patients should inform their physician about all medical conditions.
  • Patients should inform their physician of any other medication or supplement they are taking (whether prescription or over-the-counter).
  • Proscar lowers prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. Any increase in PSA during treatment with Proscar may be a sign of prostate cancer and should be further evaluated, even if PSA is at a level that would be considered normal among men who are not taking Proscar.
  • Proscar is not for use in women. Women should not touch crushed or broken Proscar tablets if they are pregnant. Contact with crushed or broken Proscar tablets may harm the fetus.

When should patients notify their physician?

Tell your doctor if you experience any side effects that bother you or don’t go away. Also tell your doctor if you have signs of an allergic reaction (such as rash, itching, hives, or swelling of the lips and face) or breast changes such as lumps, pain, or nipple discharge.

What is a package insert?

A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.

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Tags: Drug Dictionary, F, Hormonal Therapy

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