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Fda To Rule Today On Anti-Baldness Pill With ‘Impressive’ Results

Thu., Nov. 13, 1997

Popping a pill to regrow hair? It sounds too good to be true, but balding men may soon get that option.

The Food and Drug Administration’s scientific advisers will decide today whether to let Merck & Co. sell the first anti-baldness pill to American men, whose only hope now is to slather Rogaine on their scalps.

Merck’s Propecia is a once-a-day pill that promises to help regrow hair - and prevent more from falling out - by suppressing a hormone that shrinks hair follicles.

It’s not a miracle cure, cautions Dr. Ronald Savin, a dermatologist in New Haven, Conn., who helped test the drug.

The new hair “is not like anybody ever had when they were 13,” Savin said. But “it is an obvious difference. … I’ve got to tell you, I’ve seen the pictures - the before and after - and it’s impressive.”

Propecia actually is a lower dose of a popular drug that men already use for enlarged prostates, called Proscar. For the merely hair-impaired, Merck says a safe dose is 1 milligram a day of the active ingredient, finasteride, not the 5-milligram Proscar pills that prostate patients take.

And although women suffer hair loss, too, Merck says Propecia can never be used by them - the threat of birth defects is too great.


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