Male pattern baldness is the most common hair loss condition in the world. And while there’s still no cure for baldness, there are now some very successful hair loss treatments on the market, including Finasteride and Propecia.
Propecia is the brand name for the generic drug Finasteride used to regrow hair. So they work in the same way, but there are a few differences worth noting if you’re looking for the right treatment for male pattern baldness.
In this article, find out all the key differences between Propecia vs Finasteride, including cost, dosage, and side effects.
- What is Finasteride?
- What is Propecia?
- Propecia vs Finasteride at a glance
- Propecia vs Finasteride: dosage
- Propecia vs Finasteride: cost
- Propecia vs Finasteride: effectiveness
- Propecia vs Finasteride: side effects
- Propecia vs Finasteride: eligibility
- Should you use Propecia or generic Finasteride?
- Where to get Propecia and Finasteride
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is the active ingredient that slows hair loss and stimulates regrowth. It works by lowering the levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in your body.
DHT is the hormone responsible for causing hair follicles to shrink and eventually stop producing hair. So by limiting the amount of DHT in your body, Finasteride can prevent ongoing hair loss.
Finasteride is usually taken as an oral tablet, though there’s promising evidence that topical Finasteride can also reduce hair loss [1-2].
Generic Finasteride is available on prescription to treat both male pattern baldness and benign prostate enlargement (BPE).
What is Propecia?
Propecia is a branded version of oral Finasteride made by Merck, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
Merck developed Finasteride in the 1980s as a treatment for BPE . It was licensed as a BPE treatment in 1992 under the brand name Proscar.
Finasteride’s effectiveness as a hair loss drug was discovered by accident, when researchers noticed that Proscar use was linked to a reduction in hair loss in many users . Further tests led to the licensing of Propecia in 1997: a version of Finasteride designed specifically to treat male pattern hair loss.
Propecia vs Finasteride at a glance
See all the key differences between Propecia and Finasteride in this comparison table:
|Dosage||1mg||1mg or 5mg|
|Cost (30 tablets)||£42 to £50||£12 to £17|
|Effectiveness||No difference||No differences|
|Side effects||No difference||No differences|
|Eligibility||Adult male patients only||Adult male patients only|
Both Propecia and generic Finasteride are available with a prescription from a licensed hair loss clinic. Book a free consultation with the Wimpole Clinic to discuss your hair loss treatment options and find the right one for you.
Propecia vs Finasteride: dosage
The main difference between Propecia and generic Finasteride is that Finasteride is available in two doses: 1mg and 5mg. Because Propecia is specifically formulated for hair loss, it’s only available in a 1mg dose.
Studies have found that 1mg is the optimal dosage for hair loss patients [5-6]. The 5mg dosage is designed to treat BPE, so it’s not usually necessary for hair loss patients to take the higher dosage.
If you opt for generic Finasteride, check the dosage before you start taking it.
- A 1999 study on male participants aged 18 to 36 with moderate crown hair loss received Finasteride 5mg, 1mg, 0.2mg, 0.01mg, or a placebo once a day . Researchers found that Finasteride doses 0.2mg and above could effectively improve scalp hair count, with Finasteride 1mg being the optimal dose for treating hair loss.
- Another 1999 study found that 1mg and 5mg Finasteride reduced scalp DHT levels by 64.1% and 69.4% respectively . A reduction in scalp and serum DHT levels is linked with decreased hair loss.
Propecia vs Finasteride: cost
Propecia tends to be more expensive than generic Finasteride. As of April 2023, one online pharmacy charges £12.20 for a 30-day course of generic 1mg Finasteride, or £42.40 for a 30-day course of Propecia .
Despite the price difference, there’s no difference in ingredients or effectiveness. So it’s up to you whether you choose Propecia or generic Finasteride.
Propecia vs Finasteride: effectiveness
Propecia and generic 1mg Finasteride contain the same ingredients. So there’s no difference in effectiveness between the two. Both can give excellent results, especially for crown hair loss:
Propecia vs Finasteride: side effects
Because Propecia and 1mg Finasteride contain the same ingredients, they come with a similar risk of side effects.
Side effects are rare with both treatments, but it’s always important to be aware of the risks. Known side effects include:
- Finasteride-related erectile dysfunction
- Ejaculatory problems
- Low sex drive
- Breast changes (including tenderness and Finasteride gynecomastia)
Side effects usually stop when you discontinue treatment, but hair loss will resume. That’s why it’s a good idea to discuss your treatment options with a licensed hair loss professional who can give you bespoke advice and talk through any concerns with you.
Propecia vs Finasteride: eligibility
Propecia and Finasteride are only suitable for adult male hair loss patients. Women and children are usually advised to avoid these medications.
Should you use Propecia or generic Finasteride?
Ultimately, you’ll see the same impact from using Propecia and generic Finasteride. Both medications can stop and even reverse genetic hair loss caused by male pattern baldness.
The only major differences are around dosage and price. So if you’re watching your wallet, generic 1mg Finasteride may be the best choice.
If you need Finasteride for benign prostate enlargement, a 5mg dosage is usually recommended. This is available under the brand name Proscar, or as a generic Finasteride tablet. See your GP for advice.
Propecia and Finasteride aren’t the only treatments for male hair loss. Speak to a hair loss clinic for information about Finasteride alternatives, such as Dutasteride and hair transplants.
Where to get Propecia and Finasteride
Both Propecia and generic Finasteride are only available on prescription. As Finasteride isn’t available on the NHS as a hair loss treatment, you’ll need to consult with a private hair loss specialist or pharmacist.
You can get Propecia and generic Finasteride from an online pharmacy. But to make sure you’re choosing the right treatment, it’s best to have an in-depth conversation about your hair restoration goals and the range of available treatment options.
Book a free consultation with the Wimpole Clinic to create a treatment plan that’s tailored to your hair loss, including preventing hair loss in the long-term and minimising risk of side effects.
- Topical finasteride in the treatment of androgenic alopecia. Preliminary evaluations after a 16-month therapy course
- Comparing the therapeutic effects of finasteride gel and tablet in treatment of the androgenetic alopecia
- Court let Merck hide secrets about a popular drug’s risks | Reuters
- Serendipity in Trichology | NLM
- Clinical dose ranging studies with finasteride, a type 2 5alpha-reductase inhibitor, in men with male pattern hair loss
- The effects of finasteride on scalp skin and serum androgen levels in men with androgenetic alopecia
- Propecia prices | Doctor Fox
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