finasteride hits the Japanese market
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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 Banyu’s 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.

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