The problem with trying to determine how effective dutasteride will be
for treating hair loss is that clinical trials are still underway to
determine its efficacy for this application. Clinical trials are
divided into three phases; I, II, and III. Phase I trials are designed
to determine if a drug is safe in humans, Phase II trials are designed
to determine the correct dosing range for treatment of the condition,
and Phase III trials are designed to determine long-term efficacy of
Dutasteride for the treatment of hair loss has completed Phase I and
II trials. These trials are not primarily intended to determine drug
efficacy, so results regarding the long-term performance are still
incomplete. Phase III clinical trial sites have been selected, and the
trials are scheduled to begin in early 2003. Even without the results
of the Phase III trials, however, there are some preliminary
indications that dutasteride may be effective for treating hair loss.
The Phase II trials did record preliminary information regarding
efficacy, and some of the results are available here:
The official results, which do not address efficacy, are available at:
In addition to these results from the Phase II clinical trials, there
is also some anecdotal evidence regarding the efficacy of dutasteride
for treatment of hair loss. According to a doctor involved in the
clinical trials of dutasteride for treatment of benign prostatic
hyperplasia, "patients on dutasteride reported spontaneously increased
growth of scalp hair", but the study did not formally investigate
these claims, as it was concentrating on a different condition.
As a result of these reports, I think it is safe to assume that
dutasteride has the potential to effect somewhat better results than
currently available hair loss treatments for some individuals. Please
do not let this give you false hope, however -- results of this
magnitude may not be present in all or even most users. Phase II
trials consisted of only 416 men, many of whom were given placebos or
very low doses of dutasteride. The long-term efficacy of dutasteroid
is still unproven until the results of the Phase III clinical trials
are available. Even from just these preliminary results, I feel
confident saying that dutasteride is not likely to "regrow all your
hair" or "be a cure". It is simply another step toward that goal.
As far as availability of dutasteride, the drug has been in existence
since at least 1995, and has just this month received FDA approval for
treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a prostate disorder,
after receiving approval in Sweden earlier this year. In the USA, the
commercial name of dutasteride for treatment of BPH is Avodart, and is
manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
The release of prescription medicines isn't like movies or music,
where release dates and delivery is coordinated in advance and
embargoed to the public on a specific date. Because of this, it's
impossible to put an exact date on availability in your area. However,
the rumor mill is predicting that Avodart will be commercially
available in North America sometime in December 2002. For somewhat
more solid evidence, GlaxoSmithKline's Third Quarter 2002 financial
results, issued October 23, 2002, includes the statement that
Avodart's launch is "planned in the USA before the end of 2002".
As December grows closer, you may be able to get more detailed
information about the release timeline of Avodart by calling
GlaxoSmithKline customer service at 1-888-825-5249, option 3.
Obtaining a prescription for Avodart may be difficult, as it is
indicated for benign prostatic hyperplasia, not hair loss. However, it
is not uncommon for doctors to prescribe medicines outside of their
field of expertise, particularly if you have a personal relationship.
According to the post below, pharmacies that specifically request
Avodart "will receive it before other pharmacies that wait to stock
their shelves". If you are able to get Avodart prescribed, contact one
or more of your local pharmacies right away and let them know that you
would like them to order Avodart for you.
There exist international pharmacies that sell prescription medicine
without a prescription, but receipt of prescription medications
without a doctor's prescription may not be legal in your jurisdiction.
In addition, because of the likelihood that the USA will be the first
recipient of dutasteride, the inability to "pre-order" the medication
with this method, and the likelihood of the drug being in high demand
via these channels, it may not be your best bet for being one of the
first to receive treatment.
Regardless, you may be interested in these posts:
Some sites to watch:
Search terms: dutasteride, GI198745