Hair loss - Finasteride vs Propecia

07 September, 2020  |  Rachel Perkins

Hair loss or baldness in men has traditionally been associated with age but this isn’t the whole story.  Although its true that the older you get the more likely you are to experience hair loss there are many other factors which may contribute to baldness.

Factors which may contribute to hair loss include:

  • Age
  • Stress
  • Hereditary causes
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Poor diet
  • Scalp infections
  • Iron deficiency

Types of hair loss

There are several different types of hair loss which include:

  • Androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness. This tends to start with a receding hairline and/or a bald spot on the crown.  This is the most common form of hair loss and is caused when the body produces excess levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) a byproduct of testosterone.  DHT is converted from testosterone by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase.  Throughout puberty this hormone is responsible for new hair growth, however it is thought that later on in life DHT attaches to hair follicles cutting off the supply of nutrients and protein.
  • Alopecia Areata. Bald spots occur on the scalp and can progress to total hair loss (alopecia totalis)

Hair loss can have a negative psychological effect in men who experience it.  It can affect self-confidence and potentially lead to anxiety or depression, although it should be said that hair loss is a normal biological function which nobody should be ashamed of.

Treatment options

Several treatments are currently available available for Androgenic alopecia, the most common form of hair loss.  These include:

  • Propecia – the branded version of the generic medicine Finasteride produced by MSD, Propecia is an effective treatment for Androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). It works by reducing levels of 5-alpha reductase which is responsible for the production of DHT from Testosterone.  This in turn reduces the levels of DHT and prevents further damage to hair follicles.
  • Finasteride – Since 2015 after the MSD’s patent on Propecia expired, drugs manufacturers have been able to produce Propecia generically as Finasteride 1mg. This generic version of the drug is chemically identical to the branded version but the tablets and packaging differ.  Finasteride is often available at a much cheaper price than Propecia.  Although Finasteride has been previously available, this was only licensed in the strength of 5mg tablets.  Finasteride 1mg tablets are indicated for the treatment of hair loss.


The most effective treatment for hair loss is Finasteride which is available generically or as the branded version propecia.  Although both treatments are identical Finasteride offers the best value for money.

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