Dr. Friedman’s Look at Dutasteride (Avodart) for Hair Loss Treatment

Dutasteride is a medication prescribed to treat an enlarged prostate otherwise known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Dutasteride is in a class of medications called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, the same family of drugs in which finasteride is a member. Finasteride is the main ingredient in Propecia, a pill commonly prescribed for hair loss treatment. Finasteride prescribed for BPH is known as Proscar, and comes in a 5mg daily dosage. Both Finasteride and Dutasteride work by preventing testosterone from converting to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the main culprit for genetic hair loss. It does this by blocking the enzyme 5-alpha reductase from manipulating normal testosterone into DHT.

In the United States, dutasteride is sold under the brand name, Avodart by GlaxoSmithKline. Other names include: Avidart, Avolve, Duagen, Dutas, Dutagen, and Duprost.

Dutasteride is the first 5-alpha reductase inhibitor (5ARI) that inhibits both the type 1 and 2 isoenzymes of 5AR. These enzymes are responsible for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the prostate and other tissues, and DHT has been proven to play a key role in the development and progression of BPH.” – GlaxoSmithKline Press Release, Aug. 12, 2002

Dutasteride can also be prescribed “off label” to treat male pattern baldness. However, the FDA has not granted specific approval for dutasteride as a treatment for male pattern hair loss. When a medication is prescribed for something other than what is originally intended, the FDA has allows for doctors to prescribe the medication for the unintended purpose under a system known as off-label.

 The manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, completed a Phase I and II study of dutasteride for hair loss, but suddenly and unexpectedly, called off the trials in 2002 and no one really knows why. However, these trials were restarted in Korea in 2006 and were completed in January of 2009. The results of this study have not been released yet. However, some early speculation is that it does offer a superior hair count in comparison to finasteride, yet, also had more unwanted sexual side-effects.

The promise and hope behind dutasteride over finasteride is that it blocks or inhibits BOTH isoforms of 5-alpha reductase, while finasteride only works on one.

Whether or not dutasteride is clinically proven to be more effective than finasteride remains to be seen. However, the general belief is that it offers matching efficacy in comparison to finasteride.

Side effects of Dutasteride include:

  • inability to have or maintain an erection
  • decrease in sex drive
  • difficulty ejaculating
  • breast tenderness or enlargement (Gynecomastia), )

If you are interested in using dutasteride to treat male pattern hair loss, contact your doctor first. Do not buy prescriptions off the internet without first consulting a medical professional in person.