If you’ve seen headlines about a finasteride recall, you’re probably wondering if you should be concerned. The bad news is that some finasteride has been recalled due to worrying complaints from people who took it. The good news is that the recall is limited to a specific batch of finasteride, called “Finasteride Plus,” made by Masterpharm, a single pharmacy. We want to clarify right now that Keeps doesn’t do any business with Masterpharm.

Allow us to explain what’s going on so you have the information you need to make the best possible decisions for your health.

So is all finasteride being recalled?

Nope! This is a voluntary recall of a limited number of bottles. The pharmacy was combining finasteride and minoxidil into a single tablet sold as “Finasteride Plus”—without telling the FDA or the public that the medication contained minoxidil. Recently, an independent lab tested the medication and found the undeclared minoxidil.

If you’re a Keeps customer worried about your finasteride, we’ll reassure you right now: We don’t sell combined medications, and none of our finasteride is affected by this recall.

Why did this finasteride have minoxidil in it?

Since the only two products that are FDA-approved to treat hair loss are finasteride and minoxidil, it seems like a total no-brainer to combine them. Imagine only having to take one miracle pill a day instead of having to remember to take your finasteride and apply your minoxidil in the morning (and then apply it again at night).

But as this recall shows, the convenience of a combined medication can come with some increased risks, especially when people don’t know what they’re taking. However, that doesn’t mean that all combined medications are unsafe. Compounding pharmacies, which make these kinds of medications, have been a part of the healthcare system for years.

What’s a compounding pharmacy?

A compounding pharmacy is a pharmacy that creates custom medications to meet specific needs that aren’t met by the currently available options. For example, if you need to take a particular medication but are allergic to one of the ingredients, a compounding pharmacy could make a version of it for you that excludes the allergen. It’s not like you can just call one up and order what you want, though. You still need a prescription from a doctor to get the medication.

So the problem with this specific batch of finasteride wasn’t the fact that it was a combination.

So minoxidil isn’t dangerous?

No, minoxidil isn’t dangerous when it’s taken properly, even if you apply it alongside taking finasteride orally. The issue here wasn’t just that customers didn’t know the medication contained minoxidil, but also that it contained more minoxidil than the FDA recommends for hair loss treatment. That means people who didn’t even know they were taking minoxidil were taking too much of it.

Given that minoxidil dilates blood vessels and can even be used to treat high blood pressure, those people experienced symptoms that aren’t typical side effects of finasteride. Masterpharm received 33 complaints of increased heart rate, retention of water, dizziness, and low blood pressure—all side effects that would be worrying even if you did know to expect them.

To be clear, minoxidil is generally safe to take, but only if you’re using it the way it’s intended and using the correct amount (and you actually know what you’re taking).

How do I know if my finasteride is safe to take?

The pharmacy is reaching out to every customer who received the recalled finasteride, so you should be contacted soon if you’re affected. Until then, here are a few signs that your finasteride might not be safe to take, according to the FDA’s announcement:

  • It’s labeled “Finasteride Plus 1.25mg”
  • It’s in an orange bottle containing 30 capsules or a blue bottle containing 90 capsules
  • It’s expiration date is August 25, 2020

If you think you have the recalled finasteride, don’t take it. Instead, return it to Masterpharm with the stamped envelope they’ll send you in the mail. If you don’t receive the envelope, contact the pharmacy directly.

We know how scary it can be to see the name of a medication you’re taking in the news next to words like “recall” and “dangerous.” That’s why we’re here to give you the facts you need to make the right decisions for your health.

Looking for FDA-approved finasteride or minoxidil? Get started with Keeps today.

The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department. If you are contemplating suicide, call 911 or call/text the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. These services are available 24/7.

If you would like to learn more about finasteride, please see the full prescription information here. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit MedWatch: https://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/default.htm   or call 1-800-FDA-1088

Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash