Dutasteride Review (Avodart)
Dutasteride (trade name Avodart) is a dual, 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. 5-alpha reductase is an enzyme present in the human body, which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT has been found to be the main cause of hair loss, known as male pattern baldness. Dutasteride belongs to the same group of drugs as finasteride (the main active ingredient of Propecia) but it is a dual, 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, so that it inhibits both isoforms of 5-alpha reductase and is therefore believed to be a more potent DHT blocker. It is a newer drug than finasteride and, in the form of Avodart, it has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia.
GlaxoSmithKline developed this drug and has conducted a clinical trial with the aim of examining its effects on hair loss. The final phase of this trial was completed this year and the release of the study’s results is pending. Preliminary data so far indicate that dutasteride is a more powerful hair loss pill than finasteride and many hope it could be more effective in regrowing hair in the frontal area of the scalp. The main concern associated with the continued use of dutasteride is its potential side effects. They are thought to be similar to those of finasteride, such as decreased libido, ejaculation disorders, weight gain and, in extreme cases, breast enlargement. However, dutasteride, being a dual 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, stays in the human body much longer. Finasteride virtually disappears within 24 hours, whereas the serum half-life for dutasteride can be several months.
Dutasteride, though not yet approved for treating hair loss by the FDA in the US, is in some countries a commonly prescribed pill for male pattern baldness. It is also being prescribed by some doctors in the US as an "off label" treatment for hair loss, though with caution and after a complete examination and diagnosis by an experienced hair restoration specialist. Consumer reviews of dutasteride's effectiveness in treating hair loss can be found at online forums and seem largely positive. The main negative factor mentioned in such reviews is obviously the fear of side effects, though the immediate effects do not seem to be any more worrying than those from the use of finasteride.