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What is Avodart (Dutasteride)?

3rd June 2019

Avodart (the brand name for the generic drug, Dutasteride) is a medication used in the treatment of enlarged prostate glands in men. A condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is caused by the male sex hormone, dihydrotestosterone, which is formed in the testes, prostate gland and hair follicles.

The way in which Avodart works is that it belongs to a class of medications called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, which stops the male sex hormone (testosterone), metabolising into the more potent, dihydrotestosterone.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia typically affects about 50 percent of men in their fifties, and the figure climbs up to 90 percent once men reach the age of 80. And despite the prevalence of the condition, it very rarely causes any symptoms before the age of 40. So why are so many men seeking treatment with Avodart then?

Well, the hormone dihydrotestosterone not only enlarges the prostate; it is also responsible for shrinking hair follicles, which is a leading cause of male pattern baldness. Not only do smaller hair follicles mean increased hair loss, but it can also discourage new hair from growing and lead to the baldness that many men experience as a result of dihydrotestosterone.

Can Avodart be used to treat hair loss?

Technically, the answer is yes. Because Avodart (Dutasteride) works to inhibit the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, it can be used to prevent hair loss, as well as to treat an enlarged prostate. Technically. However, Dutasteride is not licensed in the UK (or the US for that matter) in the treatment of male pattern baldness.

Because medical professionals will be well aware of what Dutasteride, as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor, does, some of them may be willing to prescribe Dutasteride “off-license”. This means that both the prescriber and the patient take responsibility for using a drug in a different way than the one it is licensed for and accept any risks that come with this. For this reason, a lot of medical professionals (especially those offering healthcare remotely), will decide not to prescribe drugs “off-license”.

Dutasteride vs Finasteride

Dutasteride is not licensed for the use of male pattern baldness because there have been no clinical trials conducted to test its safety or effectiveness. However, we do know that it belongs to the same class of medications as Finasteride and works in a very similar way.

Both drugs inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme responsible for converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (and causing hair loss), however, Dutasteride also inhibits an additional enzyme. It’s for this reason that, in theory, Dutasteride is the stronger treatment, but this also means that the side effects are stronger and the risks higher too.

Can I buy Avodart (Dutasteride)?

Even though Dutasteride is not licensed for hair loss, that is not the same as not being licensed for use. This means that prescriptions of Dutasteride as a hair loss medicine are not by any means illegal, and are simply at the discretion of the prescriber or doctor. This means that you can buy Avodart, but in doing so, you accept the responsibility of heightened risks and side effects.

Although Dutasteride may be an effective treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and also perhaps male pattern baldness, it has also been linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer. In a clinical study of men who had an increased risk of prostate cancer, it was those taking Dutasteride who were more likely to actually have a serious form of prostate cancer. The drug can also affect the results of a blood test checking for prostate cancer.

Because it’s safer and more fully understood, you are better off getting a prescription for Finasteride, or its branded equivalent, Propecia. This medication provides effective treatment for male pattern baldness and not only reduces the amount of hair you lose, but also encourages new hair to grow.