Merck applies for a patent for Topical Finasteride (Propecia). Some feel it means Merck knows something we don’t. Others think Merck just wants to keep their piece of the pie.
Propecia is one the most effective treatments on the market today for young men wishing to maintain their hair, and as part of a combination regimen for those wishing to regrow and maintain. Propecia’s active ingredient, Finasteride, has only been tested and approved by the FDA for effectiveness when taken as a pill in 1mg form daily.
Many have speculated that a topical application of finasteride may be effective as well, however the issue of insufficient, or over-absorbption and potential for side effects has always been a problem. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why several very effective topically applied treatments never make it to market.
They’re systemically absorbed and are too dangerous to the system.
So why has Merck applied for a topical finasteride patent? The optimistic view is that someone at Merck woke up one morning and realized that topically applied Finasteride might actually work for treatment of hair loss. Such a concept excites many people who aren’t able to tolerate the side effects of Propecia ingested orally. The less optimistic, and unfortunately more realistic view is that Merck may just be trying to stake their claim for “all things Propecia”.
The thought of effectively inhibiting DHT topically and locally, versus stystemically, is a very enticing thought for everyone. Merck has cornered the patent and commercial market on an orally ingested baldness treatment containing finasteride, so if they can acquire the patent for a topical preparation, then they can not only take their time researching its effectiveness, but also protect their baby – Finasteride.
Extensive testing and research would be needed in the future to determine if topically applied finasteride is as effective as oral Propecia.
Until that time, it will remain one of many potentially helpful but unestablished treatments in the eyes of the scientific community. USA Direkt is a company that currently has a topical finasteride lotion product available, and this and a Spironolactone Lotion provided by Dr. Lee are common additions to many people’s regimen containing proven treatments like oral Propecia, Minoxidil, and Tricomin.
Obtaining the patent on a topical finasteride treatment will give Merck the luxury to take the time to do the appropriate research, (should they choose to) as well as simply keep the concept as their own, and protect the sales of oral finasteride.