Androgenetic alopecia (AGA), commonly known as male pattern baldness, is a condition that affects many men worldwide. Finasteride is an established oral treatment for AGA, but long-term therapy may not be suitable for some patients. Therefore, a topical formulation of finasteride has been developed to act specifically on hair follicles and minimize systemic exposure. In this article, we will discuss a clinical trial that evaluates the efficacy and safety of topical finasteride compared with placebo and oral finasteride.
The study was a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel-group, 24-week trial conducted in 45 sites in Europe. Adult male outpatients with AGA were enrolled, and efficacy and safety were evaluated. The primary endpoint was the change from baseline in target area hair count (TAHC) at week 24. Finasteride, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) concentrations were also measured.
Out of the 458 patients who took part in the study, 323 completed it, and 446 were checked for safety. The study found that the number of hairs on the targeted area of the scalp increased significantly after 24 weeks of using topical finasteride compared to placebo (20.2 more hairs compared to 6.7 more hairs for placebo). Additionally, the increase in hair count was similar between topical and oral finasteride. Topical finasteride was found to be significantly more effective than placebo in improving hair growth and reducing hair loss at week 12 and week 24, as assessed by the investigator.
The study showed that there was no significant difference in the number and type of side effects and reasons for discontinuation between topical finasteride and placebo. No serious side effects were caused by the treatment. Furthermore, the study found that the maximum amount of finasteride in the blood was more than 100 times lower with topical finasteride than with oral finasteride. Additionally, the reduction in mean serum DHT concentration was also lower with topical finasteride (34.5%) than with oral finasteride (55.6%). Therefore, topical finasteride is less likely to cause sexual side effects related to a decrease in DHT levels.
The study shows that topical finasteride is a safe and effective treatment for AGA. It significantly improves hair count compared to placebo and is well tolerated. Its effect is similar to that of oral finasteride, but with markedly lower systemic exposure and less impact on serum DHT concentrations. Therefore, topical finasteride may be a suitable alternative to oral finasteride for patients with AGA who cannot tolerate long-term oral therapy.
If you are experiencing male pattern baldness, consult your doctor to discuss the best treatment options for you. Your doctor can assess the severity of your condition, medical history, and overall health to determine if topical finasteride is a suitable treatment option. It is important to note that like any medication, topical finasteride may cause side effects, and you should always follow your doctor's instructions and dosage recommendations.