Mechanism Of Action
The development and enlargement of the prostate gland is dependent on the potent androgen, 5α-
dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Type II 5α-reductase metabolizes testosterone to DHT in the prostate
gland, liver and skin. DHT induces androgenic effects by binding to androgen receptors in the cell
nuclei of these organs.
Finasteride is a competitive and specific inhibitor of Type II 5α-reductase with which it slowly forms a
stable enzyme complex. Turnover from this complex is extremely slow (t½ ~ 30 days). This has been
demonstrated both in vivo and in vitro. Finasteride has no affinity for the androgen receptor. In man, the
5α-reduced steroid metabolites in blood and urine are decreased after administration of finasteride.
In man, a single 5-mg oral dose of PROSCAR produces a rapid reduction in serum DHT concentration,
with the maximum effect observed 8 hours after the first dose. The suppression of DHT is maintained
throughout the 24-hour dosing interval and with continued treatment. Daily dosing of PROSCAR at
5 mg/day for up to 4 years has been shown to reduce the serum DHT concentration by approximately
70%. The median circulating level of testosterone increased by approximately 10-20% but remained
within the physiologic range. In a separate study in healthy men treated with finasteride 1 mg per day
(n=82) or placebo (n=69), mean circulating levels of testosterone and estradiol were increased by
approximately 15% as compared to baseline, but these remained within the physiologic range.
In patients receiving PROSCAR 5 mg/day, increases of about 10% were observed in luteinizing
hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), but levels remained within the normal range. In
healthy volunteers, treatment with PROSCAR did not alter the response of LH and FSH to
gonadotropin-releasing hormone indicating that the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis was not
In patients with BPH, PROSCAR has no effect on circulating levels of cortisol, prolactin, thyroidstimulating
hormone, or thyroxine. No clinically meaningful effect was observed on the plasma lipid
profile (i.e., total cholesterol, low density lipoproteins, high density lipoproteins and triglycerides) or
bone mineral density.
Adult males with genetically inherited Type II 5α-reductase deficiency also have decreased levels of
DHT. Except for the associated urogenital defects present at birth, no other clinical abnormalities
related to Type II 5α-reductase deficiency have been observed in these individuals. These individuals
have a small prostate gland throughout life and do not develop BPH.
In patients with BPH treated with finasteride (1-100 mg/day) for 7-10 days prior to prostatectomy, an
approximate 80% lower DHT content was measured in prostatic tissue removed at surgery, compared
to placebo; testosterone tissue concentration was increased up to 10 times over pretreatment levels,
relative to placebo. Intraprostatic content of PSA was also decreased.
In healthy male volunteers treated with PROSCAR for 14 days, discontinuation of therapy resulted in a
return of DHT levels to pretreatment levels in approximately 2 weeks. In patients treated for three
months, prostate volume, which declined by approximately 20%, returned to close to baseline value
after approximately three months of discontinuation of therapy.
In a study of 15 healthy young subjects, the mean bioavailability of finasteride 5-mg tablets was 63%
(range 34-108%), based on the ratio of area under the curve (AUC) relative to an intravenous (IV)
reference dose. Maximum finasteride plasma concentration averaged 37 ng/mL (range, 27-49 ng/mL) and
was reached 1-2 hours postdose. Bioavailability of finasteride was not affected by food.
Mean steady-state volume of distribution was 76 liters (range, 44-96 liters). Approximately 90% of
circulating finasteride is bound to plasma proteins. There is a slow accumulation phase for finasteride
after multiple dosing. After dosing with 5 mg/day of finasteride for 17 days, plasma concentrations of
finasteride were 47 and 54% higher than after the first dose in men 45-60 years old (n=12) and
≥70 years old (n=12), respectively. Mean trough concentrations after 17 days of dosing were 6.2 ng/mL
(range, 2.4-9.8 ng/mL) and 8.1 ng/mL (range, 1.8-19.7 ng/mL), respectively, in the two age groups.
Although steady state was not reached in this study, mean trough plasma concentration in another study
in patients with BPH (mean age, 65 years) receiving 5 mg/day was 9.4 ng/mL (range, 7.1-13.3 ng/mL;
n=22) after over a year of dosing.
Finasteride has been shown to cross the blood brain barrier but does not appear to distribute
preferentially to the CSF.
In 2 studies of healthy subjects (n=69) receiving PROSCAR 5 mg/day for 6-24 weeks, finasteride
concentrations in semen ranged from undetectable (<0.1 ng/mL) to 10.54 ng/mL. In an earlier study using
a less sensitive assay, finasteride concentrations in the semen of 16 subjects receiving PROSCAR
5 mg/day ranged from undetectable (<1.0 ng/mL) to 21 ng/mL. Thus, based on a 5-mL ejaculate volume,
the amount of finasteride in semen was estimated to be 50- to 100-fold less than the dose of finasteride
(5 μg) that had no effect on circulating DHT levels in men [see also Use In Specific Populations].
Finasteride is extensively metabolized in the liver, primarily via the cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme
subfamily. Two metabolites, the t-butyl side chain monohydroxylated and monocarboxylic acid
metabolites, have been identified that possess no more than 20% of the 5α-reductase inhibitory activity
In healthy young subjects (n=15), mean plasma clearance of finasteride was 165 mL/min (range, 70-279
mL/min) and mean elimination half-life in plasma was 6 hours (range, 3-16 hours). Following an oral
dose of 14C-finasteride in man (n=6), a mean of 39% (range, 32-46%) of the dose was excreted in the
urine in the form of metabolites; 57% (range, 51-64%) was excreted in the feces.
The mean terminal half-life of finasteride in subjects ≥70 years of age was approximately 8 hours
(range, 6-15 hours; n=12), compared with 6 hours (range, 4-12 hours; n=12) in subjects 45-60 years of
age. As a result, mean AUC(0-24 hr) after 17 days of dosing was 15% higher in subjects ≥70 years of
age than in subjects 45-60 years of age (p=0.02).
Table 3: Mean (SD) Pharmacokinetic Parameters in
Healthy Young Subjects (n=15)
||Mean (± SD)
|Volume of Distribution (L)
Finasteride pharmacokinetics have not been investigated in patients <18 years of age.
Finasteride is not indicated for use in pediatric patients [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Use In Specific Populations].
Finasteride is not indicated for use in women [see CONTRAINDICATIONS, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS, Use In Specific Populations, HOW SUPPLIED/Storage And Handling and PATIENT INFORMATION].
No dosage adjustment is necessary in the elderly. Although the elimination rate of finasteride is
decreased in the elderly, these findings are of no clinical significance. [See Pharmacokinetics and Use In Specific Populations.]
Table 4: Mean (SD) Noncompartmental Pharmacokinetic Parameters
After Multiple Doses of 5 mg/day in Older Men
||Mean (± SD)
|45-60 years old
|≥70 years old
|Peak Concentration (ng/mL)
|Time to Peak (hours)
|*First-dose values; all other parameters are last-dose values
The effect of race on finasteride pharmacokinetics has not been studied.
The effect of hepatic impairment on finasteride pharmacokinetics has not been studied. Caution should
be exercised in the administration of PROSCAR in those patients with liver function abnormalities, as
finasteride is metabolized extensively in the liver.
No dosage adjustment is necessary in patients with renal impairment. In patients with chronic renal
impairment, with creatinine clearances ranging from 9.0 to 55 mL/min, AUC, maximum plasma
concentration, half-life, and protein binding after a single dose of 14C-finasteride were similar to values
obtained in healthy volunteers. Urinary excretion of metabolites was decreased in patients with renal
impairment. This decrease was associated with an increase in fecal excretion of metabolites. Plasma
concentrations of metabolites were significantly higher in patients with renal impairment (based on a
60% increase in total radioactivity AUC). However, finasteride has been well tolerated in BPH patients
with normal renal function receiving up to 80 mg/day for 12 weeks, where exposure of these patients to
metabolites would presumably be much greater.
PROSCAR 5 mg/day was initially evaluated in patients with symptoms of BPH and enlarged prostates by
digital rectal examination in two 1-year, placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind studies and their
5-year open extensions.
PROSCAR was further evaluated in the PROSCAR Long-Term Efficacy and Safety Study (PLESS), a
double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, 4-year, multicenter study. 3040 patients between the
ages of 45 and 78, with moderate to severe symptoms of BPH and an enlarged prostate upon digital
rectal examination, were randomized into the study (1524 to finasteride, 1516 to placebo) and 3016
patients were evaluable for efficacy. 1883 patients completed the 4-year study (1000 in the finasteride
group, 883 in the placebo group).
Effect On Symptom Score
Symptoms were quantified using a score similar to the American Urological Association Symptom
Score, which evaluated both obstructive symptoms (impairment of size and force of stream, sensation of
incomplete bladder emptying, delayed or interrupted urination) and irritative symptoms (nocturia,
daytime frequency, need to strain or push the flow of urine) by rating on a 0 to 5 scale for six symptoms
and a 0 to 4 scale for one symptom, for a total possible score of 34.
Patients in PLESS had moderate to severe symptoms at baseline (mean of approximately 15 points on a
0-34 point scale). Patients randomized to PROSCAR who remained on therapy for 4 years had a mean (±
1 SD) decrease in symptom score of 3.3 (± 5.8) points compared with 1.3 (± 5.6) points in the placebo
group. (See Figure 1.) A statistically significant improvement in symptom score was evident at 1 year in
patients treated with PROSCAR vs placebo (–2.3 vs –1.6), and this improvement continued through
Figure 1: Symptom Score in PLESS
Results seen in earlier studies were comparable to those seen in PLESS. Although an early
improvement in urinary symptoms was seen in some patients, a therapeutic trial of at least 6 months was
generally necessary to assess whether a beneficial response in symptom relief had been achieved. The
improvement in BPH symptoms was seen during the first year and maintained throughout an additional
5 years of open extension studies.
Effect On Acute Urinary Retention And The Need For Surgery
In PLESS, efficacy was also assessed by evaluating treatment failures. Treatment failure was
prospectively defined as BPH-related urological events or clinical deterioration, lack of improvement
and/or the need for alternative therapy. BPH-related urological events were defined as urological
surgical intervention and acute urinary retention requiring catheterization. Complete event information
was available for 92% of the patients. The following table (Table 5) summarizes the results.
Table 5: All Treatment Failures in PLESS
||(0.57 to 0.79)
Interventions for BPH
||(0.32 to 0.63)
| Acute Urinary
||(0.28 to 0.66)
| Two consecutive
| Bladder Stone
| Renal Failure
due to worsening
of BPH, lack of
to receive other
|*patients with multiple events may be counted more than once for each type of event
†Hazard ratio based on log rank test
Compared with placebo, PROSCAR was associated with a significantly lower risk for acute urinary
retention or the need for BPH-related surgery [13.2% for placebo vs 6.6% for PROSCAR; 51%
reduction in risk, 95% CI: (34 to 63%)]. Compared with placebo, PROSCAR was associated with a
significantly lower risk for surgery [10.1% for placebo vs 4.6% for PROSCAR; 55% reduction in risk,
95% CI: (37 to 68%)] and with a significantly lower risk of acute urinary retention [6.6% for placebo vs
2.8% for PROSCAR; 57% reduction in risk, 95% CI: (34 to 72%)]; see Figures 2 and 3.
Figure 2: Percent of Patients Having Surgery for BPH, Including TURP
Figure 3: Percent of Patients Developing Acute Urinary Retention (Spontaneous and Precipitated)
Effect On Maximum Urinary Flow Rate
In the patients in PLESS who remained on therapy for the duration of the study and had evaluable urinary
flow data, PROSCAR increased maximum urinary flow rate by 1.9 mL/sec compared with 0.2 mL/sec in
the placebo group.
There was a clear difference between treatment groups in maximum urinary flow rate in favor of
PROSCAR by month 4 (1.0 vs 0.3 mL/sec) which was maintained throughout the study. In the earlier 1-
year studies, increase in maximum urinary flow rate was comparable to PLESS and was maintained
through the first year and throughout an additional 5 years of open extension studies.
Effect On Prostate Volume
In PLESS, prostate volume was assessed yearly by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a subset of
patients. In patients treated with PROSCAR who remained on therapy, prostate volume was reduced
compared with both baseline and placebo throughout the 4-year study. PROSCAR decreased prostate
volume by 17.9% (from 55.9 cc at baseline to 45.8 cc at 4 years) compared with an increase of 14.1%
(from 51.3 cc to 58.5 cc) in the placebo group (p<0.001). (See Figure 4.)
Results seen in earlier studies were comparable to those seen in PLESS. Mean prostate volume at
baseline ranged between 40-50 cc. The reduction in prostate volume was seen during the first year and
maintained throughout an additional five years of open extension studies.
Figure 4 : Prostate Volume in PLESS
Prostate Volume As A Predictor Of Therapeutic Response
A meta-analysis combining 1-year data from seven double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of similar
design, including 4491 patients with symptomatic BPH, demonstrated that, in patients treated with
PROSCAR, the magnitude of symptom response and degree of improvement in maximum urinary flow
rate were greater in patients with an enlarged prostate at baseline.
Combination With Alpha-Blocker Therapy
The Medical Therapy of Prostatic Symptoms (MTOPS) Trial was a double-blind, randomized, placebocontrolled,
multicenter, 4- to 6-year study (average 5 years) in 3047 men with symptomatic BPH, who
were randomized to receive PROSCAR 5 mg/day (n=768), doxazosin 4 or 8 mg/day (n=756), the
combination of PROSCAR 5 mg/day and doxazosin 4 or 8 mg/day (n=786), or placebo (n=737). All
participants underwent weekly titration of doxazosin (or its placebo) from 1 to 2 to 4 to 8 mg/day. Only
those who tolerated the 4 or 8 mg dose level were kept on doxazosin (or its placebo) in the study. The
participant's final tolerated dose (either 4 mg or 8 mg) was administered beginning at end-Week 4. The
final doxazosin dose was administered once per day, at bedtime.
The mean patient age at randomization was 62.6 years (±7.3 years). Patients were Caucasian (82%),
African American (9%), Hispanic (7%), Asian (1%) or Native American (<1%). The mean duration of
BPH symptoms was 4.7 years (±4.6 years). Patients had moderate to severe BPH symptoms at baseline
with a mean AUA symptom score of approximately 17 out of 35 points. Mean maximum urinary flow rate
was 10.5 mL/sec (±2.6 mL/sec). The mean prostate volume as measured by transrectal ultrasound was
36.3 mL (±20.1 mL). Prostate volume was ≤20 mL in 16% of patients, ≥50 mL in 18% of patients and
between 21 and 49 mL in 66% of patients.
The primary endpoint was a composite measure of the first occurrence of any of the following five
outcomes: a ≥4 point confirmed increase from baseline in symptom score, acute urinary retention, BPHrelated
renal insufficiency (creatinine rise), recurrent urinary tract infections or urosepsis, or
incontinence. Compared to placebo, treatment with PROSCAR, doxazosin, or combination therapy
resulted in a reduction in the risk of experiencing one of these five outcome events by 34% (p=0.002),
39% (p<0.001), and 67% (p<0.001), respectively. Combination therapy resulted in a significant
reduction in the risk of the primary endpoint compared to treatment with PROSCAR alone (49%;
p≤0.001) or doxazosin alone (46%; p≤0.001). (See Table 6.)
Table 6: Count and Percent Incidence of Primary Outcome Events by Treatment Group in
|N=3047 N (%)
|AUA 4-point rise
|Acute urinary retention
|Recurrent UTI/ urosepsis
The majority of the events (274 out of 351; 78%) was a confirmed ≥4 point increase in symptom score,
referred to as symptom score progression. The risk of symptom score progression was reduced by
30% (p=0.016), 46% (p<0.001), and 64% (p<0.001) in patients treated with PROSCAR, doxazosin, or
the combination, respectively, compared to patients treated with placebo (see Figure 5). Combination
therapy significantly reduced the risk of symptom score progression compared to the effect of
PROSCAR alone (p<0.001) and compared to doxazosin alone (p=0.037).
Figure 5: Cumulative Incidence of a 4 -Point Rise in AUA Symptom Score by Treatment Group
Treatment with PROSCAR, doxazosin or the combination of PROSCAR with doxazosin, reduced the
mean symptom score from baseline at year 4. Table 7 provides the mean change from baseline for AUA
symptom score by treatment group for patients who remained on therapy for four years.
Table 7: Change From Baseline in AUA Symptom Score by Treatment Group at Year 4
|Baseline Mean (SD)
AUA Symptom Score (SD)
Placebo (95% CI)
Doxazosin alone (95% CI)
Finasteride alone (95% CI)
The results of MTOPS are consistent with the findings of the 4-year, placebo-controlled study PLESS
[see Monotherapy] in that treatment with PROSCAR reduces the risk of acute urinary retention
and the need for BPH-related surgery. In MTOPS, the risk of developing acute urinary retention was
reduced by 67% in patients treated with PROSCAR compared to patients treated with placebo (0.8% for
PROSCAR and 2.4% for placebo). Also, the risk of requiring BPH-related invasive therapy was
reduced by 64% in patients treated with PROSCAR compared to patients treated with placebo (2.0% for
PROSCAR and 5.4% for placebo).
Summary Of Clinical Studies
The data from these studies, showing improvement in BPH-related symptoms, reduction in treatment
failure (BPH-related urological events), increased maximum urinary flow rates, and decreasing prostate
volume, suggest that PROSCAR arrests the disease process of BPH in men with an enlarged prostate.