May 30, 2019
If PFS awareness is what it takes to unite Germany and France, so be it.
Last week brought a slew of media coverage out of Deutschland that closely mirrors what we saw a month earlier in the French Republic.
The awareness assault began May 21 with a report on the TV news magazine Markthceck. Titled Lifestyle Drug Finasteride: Dead pants instead of a bald head?, the eight-minute exposé (English-subtitled version here) features an interview with PFS sufferer Jacob, who was first prescribed finasteride in 2009.
“I quickly realized I started to have difficulties concentrating,” he adds. “I was getting depressed and irritated. Symptoms like erectile dysfunction became noticeable. I knew something wasn’t right.”
Also featured is Wolfgang Becker-Brüser, publisher of the German medical journal Arznei-Telegramm, who notes:
“Depression and suicidal behavior are all very serious side effects caused by finasteride, and this is absolutely unacceptable for a lifestyle drug. Rationally, one cannot advocate for this medicine or justify the fact that it’s still on the market. Actually, it should be banned.”
A day after the Markthceck report debuted, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA)—Germany’s largest news agency, with bureaus in 100 nations—ran this headline: Hair-loss Trial: Plaintiff Seeks Compensation (English translation here.)
The 660-word report cites Uwe Höller, MD, who is among the PFS Foundation’s global team of volunteer Medical Professionals offering support to PFS patients and their loved ones.
According to DPA, Dr. Höller “is of the opinion that finasteride should no longer be prescribed for hair loss.”
DPA also interviewed Thomas M. of North Rhine-Westphalia, who is one of three PFS patients involved in litigation against the manufacturers and distributors of finasteride.
“I’m almost impotent and I have severe pain in the abdomen, which ranges from unpleasant to unbearable,” he says.
DPA adds that “Thomas can’t sleep because the medicine attacked his hormone balance, and has extinguished his sexual desire. This healthy, active and positive person has become an overweight, pain-stricken man with depression, even though he discontinued [finasteride] at the end of 2015. He has no other choice than to bury his desire to become a father.”
Thomas’ so-called “bellweather” trial got under way last week in the city of Paderborn, with another one going on in Berlin, and the third scheduled for October in Stuttgart.
“On the first day of the trial in Paderborn,” DPA reports, “the plaintiff was met with partial success: The defending pharmaceutical companies must hand over detailed information on effects, interactions, side effects, and information about all known suspected cases.”
In July of 2018, in cooperation with 28 German manufacturers and distributors of finasteride, including Merck & Company subsidiary MSD Sharp & Dohme GmbH, Germany’s FDA-equivalent agency, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, dispatched a so-called Red Hand Letter (English translation here) to doctors and pharmacists nationwide, informing them of severe and persistent adverse drug reactions to finasteride.
“Patients should be aware of the risk of sexual dysfunction when starting finasteride therapy,” BfArM wrote. “Patients should also be informed that, based on individual patient case reports, sexual dysfunction may persist for more than 10 years after discontinuation of the therapy.” Also that “mood changes (including depressive mood, depression and suicidal thoughts) have been reported in patients treated with finasteride.”
Anyone living in the US who suffers from PFS should report his symptoms to the US Food and Drug Administration. Anyone living outside the US who suffers from PFS should report his symptoms to the US Food and Drug Administration as well as to his national drug-regulatory agency, as directed on our Report Your Side Effects page.
Finally, if you or a loved one are suffering from PFS, and feeling depressed or unstable, please don’t hesitate to contact the PFS Foundation as soon as possible via our Patient Support hotline: firstname.lastname@example.org