Propecia Hair Loss Drug Linked to Depression and Suicide

April 13, 2015

Last month, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co in California federal court, alleging the hair loss drug Propecia was responsible for the 2013 suicide of John Pfaff, a 40-year-old Encinitas man. According to the suit, Merck knew about the risks of depression and suicide associated with Propecia since 1997, when the drug was approved but didn’t include a warning about depression until 2010. Despite many reports and clinical studies of depression and suicide ideation, a warning about suicidal ideation still isn’t included. Pfaff’s wife claimed in the wrongful death suit that her husband began taking Propecia in May 2008 and began acting strangely about a year later, and was unrecognizable by 2011. He gained weight despite being active and healthy and suffered from depression, anxiety, and repetitious behavior. He stopped taking Propecia in 2012, after concluding the medication could be the cause of his problems. However, the side effects were not temporary. He stepped in front of an oncoming Amtrak train a black from his family’s home in 2013. The case is Kelly S. Pfaff et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc., case number 3:15-cv-00509. In the federal court system, at least 740 cases are currently consolidated for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York.