Meds and you

27 September 2013


Finasteride is an anti-androgen. Anti-androgens are drugs that block the action of testosterone on the prostate gland.


Finasteride is the active ingredient of Fincar tablets (Nappi code: 709473-001), Finpro tablets (Nappi code: 708750-001), Finpecia tablets (Nappi code: 709848-001), Propecia tablets (Nappi code: 852570-007) & Proscar tablets (Nappi code: 793373-005).

General information
Finasteride is an anti-androgen. Anti-androgens are drugs that block the action of testosterone on the prostate gland.

In South Africa finasteride is registered for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, (a condition where the prostate gland - the gland surrounding the urethra - swells, thereby making urination difficult), and male-pattern baldness, a progressive loss of hair from the scalp in men caused by the presence of testosterone.

This medication does not cure the underlying condition, but simply keeps the symptoms under control. For it to be effective it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect. Once treatment is stopped symptoms of BPH may return, while the improvement of baldness may be reversed within 12 months.

Men taking this medicine should use a condom during sex if their sexual partner is pregnant, or is likely to become pregnant. This is because the active ingredient of this medicine passes into semen, and could harm the development of an unborn child.

How does finasteride work?
Finasteride blocks the production of DHT, a chemical responsible for the enlargement of the prostate and hair loss in men.

Fast facts
Drug schedule: schedule 4
Available as: finasteride is available as tablets
What does it do? Finasteride to treat enlargement of the prostate in men. It is also used for the treatment of male pattern baldness.
Overdose risk: low
Dependence risk: low
Is finasteride available as a generic? yes
Is finasteride available on prescription only? yes

User information
Onset of effect: the full effect of this medication may only be seen after several weeks.
Duration of action: up to 24 hours
Dietary advice: if administered with food the rate and extend of oral absorption may be delayed/reduced.
Stopping this medicine: do not stop using this medication abruptly as it may cause a recurrence of the original symptoms being treated. It is advised that you only stop the drug after speaking to your doctor.
Prolonged use: treatment should be reviewed every 6 months.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have liver disease

The possibility of prostate cancer should be ruled out before starting treatment with this drug.

Pregnancy: not prescribed. Pregnant woman or woman planning to become pregnant should not touch or handle this medication.
Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.
Porphyria: avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.
Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children.
The elderly: no special precautions need to be taken.
Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.
Alcohol: no special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Consult your doctor

Only if severe
In all cases
libido decreased


ejaculation inhibition


breast enlargement/tenderness


testicular pain


skin reactions


breathing difficulties



Drug interactions
No clinical significant interactions are known

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults, oral: Prostate disease: 5mg once daily; Male-pattern baldness: 1mg once daily

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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