Taking a closer look at finasteride and dutasteride can be helpful for those researching hair loss treatment. 

Here we’ll see how the two drugs stand up when compared to one another and answer some important questions: 

What do finasteride and dutasteride do? 

Finasteride and dutasteride are both 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. This means that they work to block the enzyme called 5-alpha reductase, which is responsible for the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). 

DHT is the hormone behind androgenic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness. By keeping DHT at bay, hair growth can be encouraged and hair retention maintained. 

Are finasteride and dutasteride available to buy in the UK? 

Yes, both treatments are available in the UK. However, how they are available and what they are used to treat may be slightly different. 

  • Finasteride

Finasteride is a generic medication available to buy in the UK with a prescription. It can be used to treat men who are experiencing hair loss. It is also used, in a higher dosage, to treat a condition known as benign prostate enlargement (BPE). 

  • Dutasteride

Dutasteride is also a generic drug named after its active ingredient of the same name, it is also known by its branded name Avodart. Currently, dutasteride and Avodart are not licensed in the EU to treat hair loss. If they are supplied to treat male pattern baldness it is done so ‘off-license’. Dutasteride’s licensed use in the UK is for the treatment of BPE. 

If you are looking for hair loss treatment that is licensed for the condition then Finasteride, also available as the branded version Propecia, may be suitable for you. 

Finasteride vs dutasteride: which works better for hair loss? 

Both finasteride and dutasteride have been found to produce clinically significant results for the treatment of male pattern hair loss. A meta analysis published in 2019 concluded that dutasteride provided better results than finasteride. Whilst a placebo-controlled study of the two drugs came to the same conclusion when published in 2006. 

Finasteride has been found in its own right to slow the progression of hair loss and increase hair growth in clinical trials one over the course of two years and another over the course of five years. The drug has proved popular as its branded counterpart, Propecia, and has continued to successfully treat men wishing to address their hair loss. 

Can finasteride and dutasteride cause side effects? 

Both finasteride and dutasteride have the possibility to cause unwanted side effects. It’s important to be aware of the potential side effects of any treatment you are taking. 

One side effect which both medications have been found to potentially cause is that of erectile dysfunction.

The patient information leaflet for finasteride lists ‘less desire to have sex’ and ‘difficulty having an erection’ as uncommon side effects, meaning that they can potentially affect up to 1 in 100 people using the treatment. The patient information leaflets for dutasteride and Avodart have ‘impotence’ and ‘decreased sex drive’ as common side effects. Therefore indicating that these medications have the potential to cause these side effects in up to 1 in 10 men using them. 

The risk of persistent erectile dysfunction upon discontinuation of the drug has also been investigated. One study concluded that for those where erectile dysfunction presented as a side effect, stopping use of the drug resolved the issue for 99 percent of men. 

This means that although there is a possibility for side effects to develop when taking either drug, they are quite rare and in most cases will resolve once the drug has stopped being taken. The patient information leaflet supplied with your treatment gives more information on the side effects and what to do should you experience them. 

Finasteride vs dutasteride: which should I use? 

If you’re looking to start treatment for male pattern hair loss then doing your own initial research is great. As we’ve already mentioned, finasteride and Propecia are the licensed hair loss drugs available in the UK and you can start a consultation to buy your treatment here at Treated.com. 

Unlicensed dutasteride can treat hair loss but we don’t currently offer this treatment. It is possible that further down the line, dutasteride could become a licensed treatment for male pattern baldness. Research into the drug continues which stands it in good stead. 

Page last reviewed:  30/11/2020