Viagra for Prostate Cancer? 10 Multi-Use Drugs

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"Everything works against mouse tumors," said Dr. Derek Raghavan, chair and director of the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. He is not connected with the Viagra study.

"These types of data are what have been seen in the field for years and are doubtful to give a long and/or significant impact to tumor growth," said Robert Gertzenberg, professor of urology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is also not connected with the current research.

Avodart

Approved for the treatment of enlarged prostate, Avodart, like Propecia, has been tested for prevention of prostate cancer as well.

But the drug from GlaxoSmithKline, chemically known as dutasteride, finds a third use: preventing baldness. Smaller studies have shown some encouraging results.

"It seems to have more benefit [than finasteride] in regrowing hair from pattern hair loss," said Dr. Amy Newburger of Dermatology Consultants of Westchester, N.Y., noting that "it is not yet approved for this indication."



That Avodart would work makes some sense. Like Propecia, the drug targets the pathway that converts testosterone to DHT, which is the suspected culprit in hair loss.

"There are good studies that show it is effective," said Dr. Marc Avram, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Weill Medical College at Cornell Medical Center. "There are doctors who do give it out there for hair loss.

"Doctors are using it off-label for men," Avram said. "It absolutely should not be used off-label for women."

While women should not use the drug because of the risk of birth defects, questions also remain about its safety as a baldness remedy for men.

In a review article last October in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Avram and Dr. Nicole Rogers, a hair loss specialist with Old Metairie Dermatology in Metairie, La., wrote that "phase III FDA trials appear to be on hold for using dutasteride to treat male pattern hair loss. It is unclear exactly why, but we hypothesize it is because of concerns about side effects."

Dutasteride lasts much longer in the body than finasteride, and among the side effects the doctors noted was a reduced sperm count among men using the drug.

"The sexual side effect, if you get it, lasts a lot longer than with Propecia," Avram said. "If it affects sperm, they're going to need to do long-terms studies to approve it.

"My feeling is they [GSK] are not really going strong for approval, because to do that, they're going to have to prove that sperm is not affected in any long-term ways," he said.

Avram said he does not typically prescribe the drug.

"My feeling is Propecia works in most men, and between Propecia and Rogaine, we can stop their hair loss," he said.

Efudex

Efudex, a skin cream that has been used for years to combat the early stages of skin cancer, may one day have a second use as a wrinkle-buster.

So suggests a small study of 21 subjects, commissioned by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which makes the cream. The study is published in the June issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology.



Study participants who applied the cream twice daily for two weeks were able to reduce the number of potentially pre-cancerous spots on their faces. But in addition to this, researchers also found through clinical evaluation that the subjects enjoyed other improvements in aging-related damage, including fewer wrinkles, fewer dark skin spots and less hyperpigmentation.

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