Finasteride hits the Japanese market
Banyu Pharmaceuticals Co. released Propecia
to the Japanese market Wednesday, the first oral drug for male
hair loss to
be sold in Japan.
Japan’s market for hair loss treatment products is worth
about 10 billion yen per year, but currently consists only of
topical hair restoration drugs – those applied directly
to the scalp. Propecia, however, is taken orally, and will only
be available by prescription.
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has approved
application to import the drug, which Banyu plans to sell for
250 yen each. Banyu’s parent company, Merck and Co. Inc.,
developed Propecia and sells it in over 60 countries; sales
in 2004 were approximately 30 billion yen.
Sales will be made through medical outlets and physicians such
as dermatologists. Medical insurance will not cover the drug,
which means patients will have to pay the full cost of the consultation
with the medical practitioner as well as the drug itself.
Propecia works by limiting the spread of dihydrotestosterone,
the male hormone said to cause hair loss. It not only prevents
hair loss, but can also help spark new hair growth.
The drug will be sold in 1 milligram and 0.2 milligram doses.
Clinical tests carried out in Japan showed hair growth in 58
percent of patients who took the 1 milligram dose for one year.