Are Generic Hair Loss Drugs Effective?

Before continuing, make sure to read the almost 400 comments in the Avodart and Dutasteride for hair loss reviews page. Also note that as of 2019, dutasteride has still only been officially approved to treat hair loss in South Korea and Japan.

Generic Hair Loss Drugs Much Cheaper

In 2015, I published an article about the highly varying cost of generic finasteride depending on brand and store. Nevertheless, even the most expensive generic finasteride is a lot cheaper than Propecia (the original patented brand name finasteride for hair loss) or Proscar (original finasteride for enlarged prostate treatment). Donald Trump recommends Propecia over cheaper generics.

In 2016, I published a similar article on the wide range of prices of generic dutasteride depending on brand and store. Nevertheless, even the costliest generic dutasteride is a lot cheaper than Avodart (the original patented brand name dutasteride). Ashton Kutcher prefers the expensive Avodart over cheaper generics.

Generic hair loss drugs such as the above are often 10 or more times cheaper than brand name ones. The positive impact on your savings is especially amplified when it comes to the much more expensive Avodart versus cheaper “generic Avodart” (i.e., dutasteride).

The vast majority of hair loss suffers seem to prefer generics over brand name products. And most of them make their purchases online, often via sketchy offshore based websites.

Not all Generic Dutasteride Versions the Same

Dutasteride from Breckenridge Pharmaceutical (Australia and USA).
My favorite: Generic Dutasteride from Breckenridge.

My Experiences

For what must be at least 4 years, I have been taking generic dutasteride 0.5 mg once every two days to treat my hair loss. Half the recommended daily frequency in the hopes of reducing the chances of side effects.

It is one of only two medications that I have ever taken for more than a week in my life. Both for hair growth purposes. The other one was generic finasteride, which I took for over 5 years prior to switching.

It took me a while to shift from generic finasteride to generic dutasteride. The latter grows more hair than the former, but has at least modestly higher rates of side effects. I found both phenomena to be true from my experiences during the past four years.

When I first started taking generic dutasteride, I was taking the drug sold by a US based company named Breckenridge Pharmaceutical. The actual product (see photo above) was manufactured by Douglas Manufacturing (New Zealand).

I had superb result with this brand of dutasteride. However, perhaps some of the positive effects could have been due to the fact that the first time you use dutasteride almost always give the best spurt in hair growth. I also got no side effects from the Breckenridge product.

Some of the comments in the earlier linked Avodart and dutasteride reviews post also praised this particular brand. Unfortunately, Costco and Walgreens both stopped offering this Breckenridge brand several years ago.

Generic Dutasteride (Apotex -- Canada).
Apotex Brand Generic Dutasteride.

I then switched to generic dutasteride made by Apotex (Canada/US). The actual product (photo on left) was made by Accuaps (Canada). The Apotex founder, billionaire Barry Sherman, was renowned across Canada. Sadly, him and his wife were murdered in 2017 in what remains an unsolved mystery.

I do not remember much about this product’s positive and negative effects since I only used it for half a year. A short time after I had my prescription filled, both Costco and Walgreens switched to a new brand yet again.

Generic Dutasteride from Epic Pharma (via Humanwell PuraCap)
Generic Dutasteride manufactured by Humanwell PuraCap Pharmaceutical of China. Via Epic Pharma of the US.

The latest brand that I have been taking for the past 1.5 years or so is sold by Camber Pharmaceuticals (US) and manufactured by Ascent Pharmaceuticals (US). Photo further below on the right.

Update: January 2022 — I recently purchased generic Dutasteride using GoodRx (after I did not renew my Costco membership). The price was just $23 for 90 0.5mg pills, and the product was made in China via Epic Pharma (US)’s local contract partner Humanwell Puracap.

Side Effects

This brand seems to cause me forehead acne every month, often leaving scars that last for many months. I never had bad acne before, even during my teenage years. I also think that the hair growth from the Breckenridge brand generic dutasteride was significantly better. Although, again, this could be due to the “first time almost always being the best” when you start a new hair loss drug.

Camber Pharmaceuticals (Ascent Pharmaceuticals) Generic Dutasteride.
Camber Pharmaceuticals Generic Dutasteride.

Unfortunately, I also think that this powerful testosterone, estrogen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hormone altering drug has made me gain some weight (perhaps 10-15 lbs). And it has likely also caused some gynecomastia (male breast tissue enlargement) as a side effect.

However, this could also at least partly be due to the fact that I am not too far from hitting middle age. I am also less active then I was five years ago. Hard to tell what portion of blame falls on medication; age; and lifestyle.

I think that my prior finasteride usage also caused some gynecomastia and body fat increase. See my related post on finasteride and its impact on testosterone and estrogen.

I am not sure that I can blame any particular version of generic dutasteride for the weight gain. It does seem like the worst of the gyno has happened since I started taking the Camber version, although I am not 100 percent certain. I did not take regular body dimension measurements each time I switched drugs.

Despite the above side effects, I am certain that all versions of generic dutasteride that I have tried have helped me at the very least maintain my existing hair.

Generic Drugs are not Identical to Brand name Originals

Based on my varied experiences using the same product made by different manufacturers, I did some more research on generic drugs. I have become skeptical about the quality of some of these products.

It seems like generics are not entirely identical to brand name originals. And they are also not identical to other generics. They are supposed to have the same active ingredients and be “bioequivalent” per US FDA regulations. However, inactive ingredients can and do differ significantly depending on compounding.

Moreover, even the bioequivalence regulation allows for a 20 percent variance between the generic and original formula. In actuality, the variance is 4 percent, although this is an average. You can only hope that you are not one of the exceptions to the average.

Of more concern, some generics are increasingly made in Israel, India and other countries outside the western world. There is a dark side to this, especially when it comes to oversight in developing countries.

Most Likely, Fears Overblown

Ultimately, despite the cautious tone of this post, I would say that most generic hair loss drugs are safe and equally as effective as brand name drugs. The only time you should really worry is if you starts getting strange side effects that you never get with prior brands of the same drug.

As always, the best solution is to just shave your head and never take any of these drugs in the first place! I refuse to take the more sensible option and accept the consequences.

27 thoughts on “Are Generic Hair Loss Drugs Effective?”

  1. I took the brand name Propecia for almost two years with decent results and no sides. But when I switched to generic I started to have loss in erection quality and I got super freaked out and stopped altogether. After a few months off my erections went back to normal, but I am too nervous to even try Propecia now sadly. The point of this is that for me personally brand name made a difference, so if you can afford it I would use the brand name.

  2. Have you noticed any slurring of speech, searching for words, sensitivity to light, changes in libido, loss of morning/spontaneous erections?

    Most likely you are now shifting into Hypothyroidism as Dut/Fin will cause disruption of Hypothalamus function… Ask me how I know ;)

    1. No, the few sides I had went away after being off for awhile. But like I said, I had no sides in Propecia with some results, so from my personal experience I would recommend people try the brand name first.

    2. Cray Jones,how do you know this? I have been on fin and now Dutas for 16 years with no real problems but suspect I may now be getting symptoms of Hypothyroidism

  3. It’s not worth the possible sides given how ineffective these treatments are. This shows not our ingenuity but our desperation.

    1. If by “ineffective” you mean maintaining the current hairline and most possibly regrowing hair you already lost then fine.
      All the guys on the 20s and 30s should jump on the big three. Waisting you youth waiting for a cure aint worth it.

  4. Admin, Great, useful, detailed post! While many come here optimistically for the latest new potential breakthru news, it is also nice to get helpful info & analysis on existing treatments for those of us battling in the trenches. I use Dut from Camber sold by Walgreens but given comments I have seen here and there, I have wondered at times if it was high quality, as well as why it seemed to make my forehead more oily. This is helpful!

  5. I’m a pharmacologist/pharmacist.
    Yes, at times the quality of generic drugs can be inferior to that of the brand name. This was an issue with Concerta and generic methylphenidate a few years ago.

    Admin is correct in that mandated by the Hatch-Waxman Act, generics must show bioequivalence within 20% of the branded drug. –

    Interestingly, the FDA is looking into a new SAFE IMPORTATION ACTION PLAN, which would allow manufacturers to import versions of FDA-approved drugs into the United States from abroad.

  6. Anyone try or have experience with the finasteride from hims?

    I’ve been taking the pill once a day along with two of the gummys. I’ve had some shedding which i expected but no other sides (i was on generic finasteride for about 3 yrs and had minimal shedding and then stopped for about a month)

    Hopping in another 9 months the shedding will stop and that hair will grow back. For me personally I’ve never had an issue with the generic but curious anyone else’s opinion on the hims, it’s just so dang easy. Thinking about also adding a shampoo, a good once a day, any recommendations?

    First time poster long time reader, thank yall

  7. I’ve been taking the Camber Dut from Costco for yeas I guess, never really pay attention to the manufacturer. Side effects include stopping of hair loss, some regrowth (in tandem with Minox) and no loss of libido! :-) The 20% variance reminds me of medical devices I’ve sold, which typically allow for + or – 10% from the standard, in reality it’s insignificant.

  8. A family member of mine thought they were doing me a favor by bringing me back some “super cheap” versions of “those pills you take” from Mexico…

    I thanked them, but put the pills straight in the garbage.

    This kind of thing is something where you can’t risk knock-offs, especially not from third-world countries, where pharmaceutical training and standards is basically zero.

    Not just because of side effects, but because it’s literally brain-chemical-inhibiting stuff and if it turns out the generic meds were less effective, you cannot get what you’ve lost back in your experiment to “find out”. It’s just not worth the risk.

    I take 1mg, three times a week, have been on it for over 3 years now, with not further hairloss, no issues.

    So that’s about $50 every two and a half-months on the prescription I have for brand-name.

    Worth it.

    1. Having someone had you pills they got from a 3rd world country (maybe from a Pharmacy, maybe not) is a heck of a lot different than taking an FDA approved generic version of a brand name medication filled by a US Pharmacy. Come on TG, you purport to be smarter than that! With that “logic” all generic versions of medications should be banned.

  9. Great post! Was wondering about this recently.

    Maybe someone else can clarify, but I believe generic versions of drugs don’t need to have the same inactive ingredients as brand name drugs. Usually that’s just talc, starch, etc., but not always. Some excipients affect efficacy (or according to Wikipedia, provide “therapeutic enhancement”) or are required to stabilize or preserve the active ingredients. These inactive ingredients can have their own effects, or cause sensitivities and reactions in susceptible people, aside from their effect on the active ingredient.

  10. Looking at myself in the mirror with a magnifying glass I see hundreds, if not thousands of miniaturized hair, why can’t they discover something that will bring these hair back to their original state?:( is it so difficult?????????

  11. “Of more concern, some generics are increasingly made in Israel, India and other countries outside the western world”.

    As an Israeli, I’m afraid you have a misconception about Israel :) Israel is a developed western country which is part of the OECD. I’d say we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world and we have very strict regulations in place so I’d certainly trust pharmaceuticals manufactured in Israel over almost any other country. Pharma in Israel is high quality so rest assured it’s safe. Cheers,

    1. Thanks Ron, I agree that Israel’s technology is world renowned and reputable! But did you read the last part of that paragraph where I emphasize the developing world issues being a bigger concern?

      Also, the NPR link in that paragraph discussed an issue with Teva products:

      “It took the FDA five years to verify that the generic pills produced by the Israeli manufacturer Teva were not equivalent to brand-name Wellbutrin.”

      And many Teva factories are outside of Israel too. Seems common to have two manufacturer and vendor names on medication packaging these days.

      1. I guess I wrongly understood you included Israel within the developing countries category, my bad then :)

        The NPR link is interesting, as I understand it the culprit was in the fact that the original drug had a more extended release while Teva’s generic had a less extended release mechanism.

        That actually supports your main point that even given a reputable company and same active ingredients, bio-availability may differ as the result of changes to the invective/supporting formulation. That’s an important and undervalued point indeed I agree!

  12. Hello everyone,

    Loooong time reader here. First post though. Just wanted to thank Admin for the very helpful and resourceful website he has provided for all of us over the years. Felt I would Leave a comment since this recent post discussing Generic hairless drugs being as effective as name brand drugs, had inspired me to take the plunge and switch from Finasteride to Dutasteride. I have become increasingly vain as I get older lol, like the rest of us I just want to prevent as much hair loss as possible. I debated taking a generic but after being informed by this post I decided I would go for the name brand Avodart. I am on day 3 of the switch and will be taking the 0.5 mg daily. For anyone who is interested I was using the 5mg Finasteride and splitting into 4 pieces prior to the switch. I would say I have taken it for about 4 plus years. If I really had to say what side effects I noticed it would be some to mild reduction in libido. There are probably times when it could maybe be considered more then mild but I personally find there is some mental aspect to these types of sides as well. If you are a person who really looks for side effects or when noticing something you really dwell on it, this could maybe be more problematic for you. You need to stay mentally strong I find when dealing with these kinds of potential side effects. It’s no game changer for me personally and nothing I have not been able to over come these last 4 years. My best advice is stay healthy, keep your body in good shape and try to focus on having a great intimate relationship with your partner. The mind is a powerful thing and can keep you mentally strong. This is all just my own personal opinions and experiences with the drug. I will keep you guys posted on how things go now that I have switched over to Dutasteride. Also just wanted to point out I have had two prior hair transplants all for the front hairline areas. I basically have a full head of hair but have been struggling to keep the hairline over the years. Natural part of aging for many of us unfortunately!

    1. Great comment Snipes, and special thanks to those such as yourself who post about their experiences and give us more data points! Please make sure to write your experiences with Avodart (after a couple of months use or earlier if you prefer) in my testimonials post:

      I am especially keen to hear from those who are trying brand actual name Avodart. Vast majority probably find it too expensive.

      How much does it cost you per month?

  13. We agree Admin, great post by Snipes with some wise insight, especially
    ” If you are a person who really looks for side effects or when noticing something you really dwell on it, this could maybe be more problematic for you.”
    How about this on brand name Avodart…I was on it for more than a year before generic was available. I switched to generic over two years ago, no difference in effects…both side effects and desired effects. Both worked at halting hairloss and providing the environment for some regrowth/thickening.

  14. Thanks Admin and Yoda!

    This site and it’s users have provided me with plenty Information over the years so I am happy to share some personal experience to help the collective.

    I was definitely planning to leave a comment in your specified Avodart thread you linked above. I have seen it mentioned numerous times in the past and I know it’s full of very insightful personal experiences.

    Regarding the price…. I was really debating if the extra money would be worth it vs the generic Dutasteride. I have always used generic Finasteride and never tried the name brand stuff but when deciding to make the switch I figured If I was going to risk any potential side effects at the expense of hair growth, I wanted to go all in and stick with Avodart.

    Here is the the pricing I got for both generic Dutasteride and Avodart brand.
    30 day supply of 0.5mg Generic approx $15.00 US
    30 day supply of 0.5mg Avodart approx $53.00 US
    The above prices were from a regular pharmacy and not online.
    I converted the prices I paid to US dollars as I assume many viewers are in the US.

    My work benefits covers the full price of the generic so I paid the difference of what was not covered. However, I am in luck as I found out after picking up my first 30 day supply that as long as my doctor writes on the prescription “No substitutes” the full price of the Avodart brand will be covered as well.

    Yoda, I wanted to thank you for many of your past comments as well. I have noted you mentioned in previous posts you have not experienced any bad side effects from hair loss drugs over the years. Great to hear your experience from Avodart to a generic has provided you with the same results! That’s very encouraging my friend.

  15. Snipes, you seem like a good, rational guy. I hope the Dut brings you enhanced effects. As one of my hero’s of hair, Dr. Richard Lee used to say “keep it growing”!

    1. Not sure, but let me see. I do not want to put another link on the home page right column, but may write a post anyway.

  16. Hi all,

    I have read many forums and first time posting. Spent too much time worrying and looking at my head and made myself crazy.

    24 Y/O, mild crown balding and receding hairline. Took finasteride for yearish (tried minox too, wasn’t for me), it stopped loss with no side effects and dermatologist said it had worked well.

    Got greedy and said I was hoping for more temple growth and she prescribed dut (switched cold turkey). Been on for about 2 months and shedding has been bad last 3ish weeks (worse than ever on fin). Derm recently switched from the practice I was at. I am seeing a new Derm next Friday for this and acne, I need assurance that I should continue.

    I take dut by Camber Pharma, pretty sure I haven’t noticed side effects though this thread isn’t helping. I can’t afford brand name ($200+ a month), Camber Pharma cost is almost nothing ($21 for THREE months). I have found that I can get Epic Pharma for $25 for three months, anybody take this generic and have thoughts?

    Thoughts on my whole journey are appreciated too. Thanks for writing, I know many like me read and appreciate.

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