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Health Watch: Popular Drug Warning

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A grieving mother’s warning about a popular medication, taken by millions, that can cause devastating and long term side effects. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has exclusive details.

“I’m going to be living the rest of my life without my son,” said Rosemary of New Jersey. Her son Randy was just 22-years-old when he killed himself. His parents blame the hair loss drug PROPECIA. Randy was taking it because his curly red hair had started to recede.

“It is so not worth it,” said Rosemary.

The warning label says there can be sexual side effects, including lack of desire and difficulty achieving an erection. They’re supposed to go away when men stop taking the drug.

Not for Randy, he told his parents when he stopped taking PROPECIA the impotence continued along with deepening depression.

“He hated all the things that the drug had done to him. He hoped his family and friends would understand why he didn’t want to live anymore,” said Rosemary.

Randy and scores of other men have shared their devastating discoveries on propeciahelp.com. But they’re too embarrassed to show their faces.

One man told us, “It basically destroyed my life. It’s devastating. It’s terrible.

Another says, “It’s not worth it, if you can’t have a sex life. I feel like my twenties have been taken away from me, and it’s not fair.”

Watch the video…

New research from Dr. Michael Irwig at George Washington University shows some men can have persistent sexual side effects lasting five years after they stop taking PROPECIA.

“The presence of persistent sexual side effects in young men who were previously completely healthy can really take a big toll on their life,” said Dr. Irwig.

PROPECIA works by altering hormones. Dr. Irwig suspects, in a small percentage of men, that can cause sexual dysfunction.

Merck, the maker of PROPECIA, says that study is flawed.

“They feel less than human because of it,” said Alan Milstein, a New Jersey lawyer. He is suing Merck, on behalf of several men who claim the drug ruined their lives.

“When something as essential as sexual pleasure is taken from you, it has a profound affect,” said Milstein. He says Merck was not adequately warning men taking PROPECIA about the potential for long term impotence.

“Whether that was done intentionally so they could make a lot of money and not scare people away, that’s going to remain to be seen as this lawsuit progresses,” said Milstein.

Randy’s parents say he tried therapy and different medications, but nothing worked.

“This is really the closest thing we have to a suicide note,” said Randy’s father. He saved his sons postings from the PropeciaHelp website.

“I’m really hoping that this drug kills me so I don’t have to do it myself. I don’t think my family and friends would ever understand suicide. But if they really knew what the meaningless ghostly hell I’ve descended into, then they would understand,” read Randy’s father.

Merck says it will vigorously defend the lawsuits.

Just two weeks ago, since we started working on this story, warning labels for PROPECIA in the United States were revised to include complaints about persistent sexual side effects.

But Merck stands by its studies saying once the drug is stopped the dysfunction goes away.

If you have any questions, be sure to contact your doctor.

RELATED LINKS:

PropeciaHelp- http://www.propeciahelp.com/
Propecia Information- http://www.propecia.com/finasteride/propecia/consumer/index.jsp

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Eric says:

    This is incredibly hard for me to watch. Randall J. Santmann was my fraternity brother and my roommate in the house. He was the nicest, most pure-hearted human being that anybody can ever hope to have in their lives. He once brought a homeless person to the house on a cold night because he didn’t want to leave the man outside. The world is a far, far emptier place without him. Prescription drugs are going to have a profound impact on the lives of the people taking them now. I’ve been on Adderall since 13 years old and I can attest to the fact that it all but made me crazy. Prescription drugs just need to be rid of already.

  2. David M says:

    MERCK – The same company that produced Vioxx, a drug that killed many patients. Merck engaged in a series of deceitful actions to cover up the deaths caused by their medication. Google the terms “merck vioxx deceit” and see for yourself. This company is only interested in profits and doesn’t in the least care about the wellbeing of the consumers of their products. They repeatedly produce medication that kills patients and try to cover up the facts. They will do the same again with Propecia and Proscar. Aren’t pharma companies supposed to produce drugs that are safe and help their patients? With Merck this isn’t the case. This company should be put out of business because they represent a public health risk.

  3. Scott says:

    If you pay close attention, Merck said the study was flawed but did not outright disregard its claims. This is an important distinction to draw. Every study has weaknesses so what they say may be incredibly misleading.

  4. Dave Robertson says:

    This company is going to Pay Big Time for this. No ethics what so ever!

  5. Jon says:

    I also suffer from persistent side effects from finasteride. It has undoubtably ruined my life. RIP Randy.

  6. TooSickandTooTired says:

    There are many FDA approved drugs that they don’t investigate enough. I had the prostate cancer drug lupron that has ruined my life. I also have no sex drive, comstant pain, all the invisible diseases out there, osteopenia, my teeth are breaking and loose, and I’m just waiting for them to fall out. What started as years of monthly kidney stones that Drs said there was no way I could be passing (until I brought them in to them), to pelvic pain, urinary tract spasms, jaw pain, bone pain, joint pain, my immune system is shot and more. If they only know what this pain and suffering did to people’s state of mind, maybe things would change.
    There are many of us suffering out here, both men and women with no answers from TAP or the FDA no matter how many letters we’ve sent to them. Who is protecting them, and who will help us. I lost a cousin to this drug, whether iit was from depression, pain or both I don’t know, I just know this drug is pushing many over the edge.
    The worst part of all of this is the testing on children for autism and it’s being used for probescent puberty. There has to be better medications out there than this poison that TAP is well aware of what is happening. The government spent more time investigating this poison when the Drs where cheating the insurace companies than what it is doiing to the paitients, and that’s not right.
    I’m 43, feel like I’m 90, and don’t know how long I can go on like this, it’s my family that keeps me going, and that’s all.
    My deepest sympathies to this family and others that are going through this, and my heart breaks for their loss. The FDA really needs to step up their game, who is protecting them? Because noone is protecting us.

    1. TOM M says:

      I THINK LESLIE STAHL WAS VERY UNPROFESSIONAL BY
      TALKING ABOUT A DANGEROUS DRGU ON 5:PP NEWS
      BUT WOULD NOT ELABORATE AND KEPT IT FROM
      THE 6:00 LISTENERS AND STATED YOU WOULD
      HAVE TO TUNE IN TO 11:00 NEWS FOR TH E INFO.
      IMPORTANT INFO SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO
      EVERYONE AS SOON AS IT IS AVAILABLE AND NOT
      HOLD BACK TO 11:00 TO IMPROVE THE LATE NITE
      AUDIENCE. EVERYONE IS NOT ABLE TO STAY UP
      FOR THE 11:00 NEWS.

    2. jean says:

      go to lupronvictimshub just google it there you will see the history and side effect plus Attorneys

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