Dutasteride (Avodart), used to treat an enlarged prostate, is also a powerful, fast-acting weapon against hair loss.
Dutasteride was developed for treating symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) – an enlarged prostate – in men. Dutasteride is chemically similar to Finasteride (more commonly known under the trade names of Proscar®, Propecia® and Avodart®), but has proven more effective in clinical trials. Like Finasteride, Dutasteride has proved to be effective in treating male pattern hair loss as well as BPH.
Researchers have discovered that men who suffer from either male pattern hair loss or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), have increased levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
DHT is produced from testosterone by an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. Biochemical analysis reveals higher levels of 5-alpha-reductase in the bloodstream of men with BPH, and in the scalps of men with hair loss; and less of this enzyme in men with no BPH or no hair loss.
Dutasteride inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, blocking the formation of DHT. This interrupts a key trigger element in development of male pattern hair loss and in development of BPH. Finasteride only inhibits the specific enzyme known as type-II, whereas Dutasteride blocks both type-I and type-II. Dutasteride is, therefore, a lot more potent than Finasteride.
DHT levels can be monitored using the hormone test kit.
Dutasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and therefore must not be handled or used by women.
Each Avodart capsule contains 0.5mg of the active ingredient, Dutasteride. There are also some inactive ingredients in your medicine. The solution inside the capsule shell contains mono and diglycerides of caprylic/ capric and butylated hydoxytoluene (E321). The capsule shell contains gelatin, glycerol, titanium dioxide (E171), iron oxide yellow (E172), triglycerides, lecithin, and red printing ink containing iron oxide (E172) as the colorant, polyvinyl acetate phthalate, propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol.
What Avodart does
Avodart belongs to a group of medicines called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which are used to treat men who have a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a condition in which the prostate gland, which is near the bladder, becomes large enough to squeeze the urine tube making it more difficult for you to pass urine. When this happens you may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty in passing urine/water.
- Frequent passing of urine especially at night.
- A feeling that you cannot empty your bladder completely.
- A feeling that you must urinate (or pass water) straight away.
- If not treated, BPH can lead to an increased risk of complete inability to pass urine (known as acute urinary retention or AUR).
- Leaking and dribbling of urine.
How Avodart works
Prostate growth is caused by a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, (DHT), which is present in blood. Avodart lowers the production of this hormone, leading to reduction in size of the prostate in most men. In order to treat your symptoms and control your BPH effectively, it is important that you continue to take avodart for as long as your doctor prescribes it, even if you do not feel an immediate benefit. Some patients show early improvements in symptoms, but most men may need to take Avodart for up to 6 months to see if it helps. Avodart works best when taken long term.
Before you take Avodart
This medicine is for men only and should not be taken or handled by women, children or adolescents.
You should NOT take Avodart if you:
- Have ever had an allergic reaction (for example, a rash, itching or shortness of breath) to Avodart, dutasteride or any of the other ingredients in Avodart, listed at the beginning of the leaflet or to any other 5-alpha reductase inhibitors.
- Have a serious liver disease.
If you have any type of liver disease, even if it is not serious, please discuss this with your doctor before you take Avodart.
The solution from the capsule may be absorbed through the skin, so it is important to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water if you have handled the capsules, which are punctured, or leaking.
Avoiding contact between Avodart and pregnant women
Your semen may contain small amounts of the active ingredient of Avodart, which could affect the normal development of a male baby. Therefore, if your partner is or may be pregnant, you must avoid exposing her to your semen, for example wearing a condom during sex. If a pregnant woman comes into contact with the active ingredient in Avodart (for example by handling a broken capsules or by unprotected sex), please consult a doctor.
Driving and using machines
Based on how dutasteride works, treatment with dutasteride would not be expected to interfere with the ability to drive or operate machinery.
Important information about ingredients of Avodart capsules
These capsules contain glycerol, which can in high does cause headaches, stomach upset and diarrhea. They also contain butylated hydroxytoluene, which can cause irritation to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes if punctured capsules are handled.
TAKING AVODART WITH OTHER MEDICINES
Avodart does not usually interfere with other medicines. However, you should tell your doctor if you are taking any medication including herbal remedies or dietary supplements you might have bought yourself such as vitamins, iron or calcium.
HOW TO TAKE AVODART
You must take your Avodart capsules in the way your doctor has told you to. The label on your pack should tell you how many capsules to take and how often to take them. If the label does not say or if you are not sure, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
- The usual dosage is one capsule (0.5mg) to be taken once a day.
- The capsules should be swallowed whole (Do not chew), with water and can be taken with or without food.
- In order to treat your symptoms and control your BPH effectively, it is important that you continue to take Avodart as long as your doctor prescribes it for you, even if you do not feel an immediate benefit. Some patients show early improvements in symptoms, but you need to take Avodart for up to six months to see if it helps. You must continue to take you medicine as your symptoms improve. Do not stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to stop.
IF YOU TAKE TOO MANY AVODART CAPSULES
If you take too many Avodart capsules, ask your doctor what to do IMMEDIATELY or contact your nearest accident and emergency department.
IF YOU MISS A DOSE
If you forget to take a dose just carry on with the next one as usual. Do not take any extra capsules to make up for doses you may have forgotten.
WHEN YOU SHOULD STOP TAKING AVODART AND POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
As with all medicines, some people may have an allergic reaction to Avodart. Stop taking the medicine and tell your doctor IMMEDIATELY if you experience any of the following severe allergy symptoms after taking Avodart.
- Sudden wheezing, tightness of the chest or throat, or difficulty in breathing.
- Swollen eyelids, face, lips, tongue or other part of the body.
- Lumpy skin rash or hives (like a nettle rash) or blistering of the skin, especially if this is widespread or if you get a sore mouth or eyes, itchiness or fever.
Although they are rare, these symptoms could be serious. Like any medicine, Avodart can have side affects, however, these are uncommon and do not affect most men.
The following have been reported:
- impotence (not able to achieve or maintain an erection)
- decrease in libido (decreased desire to have sex or reduced sex drive)
- changes or problems with ejaculation, such as decrease in amount of semen released during sex.
- Breast swelling or tenderness.
If any of these symptoms occur you do not have to stop taking your medicine but you should seek advice from your doctor. if you have any other symptoms that you do not understand, tell your pharmacist or doctor.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR AVODART CAPSULES
As with all medicines, it is important to keep Avodart out of the reach and sight of children.
Do not store Avodart above 30 degrees C. Store the capsules in the original pack.
Do not use Avodart after the expiry date printed on the carton or the foil blister strip.
If you have any Avodart capsules left after completing your course of treatment, please return them to your pharmacist who will get rid of them safely.
This medicine has been prescribed for YOU. Never give it to women, children or adolescents or other men, as it may harm them even if their symptoms are the same as yours.