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Hair Loss Treatments

Is There A Difference Between Propecia And Generic Finasteride?

With drug prices soaring and increasing each year, it is no surprise that generic drugs have exploded in popularity.  In this article, we will be discussing the differences between brand name Propecia and generic Finasteride and whether there is a noticeable difference. 

History of Propecia

A pharmaceutical company by the name of Merck began to develop a drug called Proscar, which was initially formulated to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It was later found that hair regrowth was a common side effect of the drug. Shortly after, the pharmaceutical company Merck submitted clinical trials to the FDA for approval to treat androgenic alopecia. The results of the clinical studies were impressive and the FDA approved 1mg of finasteride as a treatment for genetic hair loss. The pharmaceutical company would go on to name the drug Propecia, which was approved by the FDA in 1997.

How Does Propecia (finasteride) Work?

Propecia (finasteride) is a powerful 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. The 5-alpha reductase enzyme is responsible for converting testosterone in DHT through the blood stream. DHT is the main hormone responsible for carrying out androgenic alopecia. Hair follicles, as well as the sebaceous glands contain a high level of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. Therefore, the use of Propecia signifcantly reduces the amount of DHT that can bind to the hair follicles androgen receptor, thus preventing, slowing and even stopping hair loss entirely.

What's the difference Between Propecia and Generic Finasteride?

In January 2013, generic finasteride became available in the United States. The generic version of finasteride can be sold at lower price while maintaining profits. This is because the generic version does not require marketing or advertising since the drug is already popular and well known. Generics are copies of name brand drugs. Generics are required to be the same as the name brands in terms of dosage, safety, strength, method of administration, quality and overall effectiveness. Generic drugs that are approved by the FDA have to meet the same rigorous standards as their brand name counterparts. Moreover, the generic manufacturing, packaging and testing sites must meet the same standards of quality as their brand name counterparts. Therefore, both drugs should be the same in terms of dosage and efficacy as long as the generic is approved by the FDA.


Both generic finasteride and Propecia contain 1mg of finasteride. The only differences between the generic and Propecia are the inactive ingredients that bind the drug tablet together. With that said, some men report that the brand name Propecia gives better results and is more effective than the generic version. However, it is important to understand the distinction between an FDA approved generic, as opposed to a non FDA approved generic. The non-approved generic does not have to meet the same standards as the brand name Propecia.