Category Archives: Polichem

Topical Finasteride Here by 2021

I originally wrote this post on topical finasteride in June 2014. Updated on February 22, 2020.

Almirall ALM12845

It finally looks like Spain-based Almirall will release its ALM12845 topical finasteride in 2020 or early 2021. Note that this product was previously known as Polichem’s P-3074. Almirall purchased Polichem in 2015.

The company filed for a Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in September 2019. The ALM12845 product is described as a cutaneous spray solution for the topical treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia. First national phase approval is expected in 2020 or early 2021. I am not sure if they will be able to get FDA approval to market in the US as yet. The pipeline chart below only shows an EU flag:

Almirall ALM12845 Topical Finasteride.
Almirall ALM12845 topical Finasteride.

Topical Finasteride for Hair Loss

Recent reports suggest that topical finasteride results in similar increases in hair count compared to oral finasteride. Topical finasteride is typically compounded in gel or solution form. The oral version can come in pill, capsule or tablet form. It is hoped and likely that the topical version has fewer side effects than the oral version.

2018 update: A systemic review of topical finasteride shows consistent reduction in hair loss. Both scalp and plasma DHT levels decreased significantly.

Topical Finasteride
Topical finasteride for hair loss.

The manufacturer of Propecia (Merck) applied for a patent for topical finasteride in 2002. However, the company has to date never tried to develop an actual product. This is all the more surprising when considering that Propecia has been getting significant negative publicity of late. Many users suffering from long-term sexual side effects have filed a class-action lawsuit against Merck.

Polichem’s P-3074

I am writing this post today because an important clinical trial/study for P-3074 was just completed in Switzerland. 2019 Update: P-3074 final trial results are now published.

P-3074 is a new topical finasteride solution with hydroxypropyl-chitosan as the film-forming agent. The study was funded by Swiss company Polichem, which primarily specializes in dermatological and gynecological products.

The interesting thing about this study is that four different doses (ranging from 0.25 mg to 1 mg) of topical finasteride were tested. The study entailed 32 human participants, with 8 of those 32 getting a placebo dose. One negative thing about the study is that only a 7-day dose of the topical P-3074 solution was administered. There will therefore be no long-term measurement of the effectiveness of P-3074. It will be interesting to see the results of this study regarding yet another new hair loss product.

Note that a similar trial (although at just one dosage level of 0.25 mg per day) for P-3074 was conducted in the past. Its findings were presented last year at the 7th World Congress on Hair Research (WCHR 2013). The conclusion of this trial was quite significant:

“These findings show that DHT concentration in the scalp, after 7-day treatment course of P-3074 once daily, was more reduced (about 40%) than after 1 mg oral finasteride administration for the same treatment period.”

Topical Finasteride Side Effects

The main reason that people are so excited about topical finasteride is because of potentially fewer side effects in comparison to oral finasteride. Serum dihydrotestosterone (DHT) inhibition in the blood is significantly less with topical finasteride versus oral finasteride. At the same time, scalp DHT inhibition will remain similar with both delivery mechanisms.

However, it should be noted that different formulations will result in different levels of DHT inhibition. It is therefore imperative to be very careful if you are purchasing this product from any compounding pharmacy. Some of the below collected sources indicate that sexual side effects will be less likely with topical finasteride. At the same time, hair growth benefits will be similar for oral versus topical.

References and Studies

There have been other studies done in the past that concluded favorable results from topical finasteride. For example, a 2009 study from Iran concluded: “the therapeutic effects of both finasteride gel and finasteride tablets were relatively similar to each other.” Nothing is mentioned regarding side effects in the abstract of that study.

A more recent 2012 study from Thailand concluded that a 3% minoxidil plus 0.1% finasteride lotion (“MFX”) was superior to just 3% minoxidil (“MNX’). There is also an increasing amount of new research on better ways to deliver topical hair loss drugs, especially via nanocarriers.

Update: April 2020 — A new study found topical finasteride to be more effective than topical 17α-estradiol in women suffering from female pattern hair loss (FPHL).

It should also be noted that the original Merck patent for Propecia has a number of sentences mentioning topical formulations as also likely being effective.

What I am really hoping for are future studies on topical dutasteride. The main reason for this, besides dutasteride’s superior results to finasteride, is that type I 5α-reductase isoenzymes are more prevalent on the scalp. Type II 5α-reductase isoenzymes are more prevalent in the prostate.

Finasteride primarily inhibits type II 5α-reductase, while dutasteride also inhibits type I 5α-reductase. I would therefore not be surprised if topical dutasteride’s superiority over topical finasteride is even greater than the superiority of dutasteride pills over finasteride pills. Hopefully, there will also be fewer side effects even after accounting for some systemic absorption via the scalp.

A few hair transplant surgeons have developed their own topical finasteride solution, usually in partnership with local pharmacies. If you happen to have heard more on this, please post in the comments section below this post. Some hair loss forum participants seem to have tried to develop their own topical finasteride or even topical dutasteride. Something I would not recommend. The science of topical medication delivery is a bit too complex for the vast majority of us to be experimenting with on ourselves.

Other Sources of Topical Finasteride

A number of clinics and many local pharmacies can already compound topical finasteride for you. However, such localized products will never be substantiated by clinical studies, as is the case with Almirall’s product. Moreover, a large company such as Polichem has devoted years of research in perfecting its drug delivery system. They also have to prove limited to no side effects from their product during the rigorous clinical trial phases.

Update: I got an e-mail from the Hasson & Wong clinic on June 17, 2014 stating the following:

“Dr. Hasson is prescribing topical finasteride to some of his patients and it is being prepared at a pharmacy close to our clinic. To date the results have been very similar to the oral finasteride.”

Polichem Topical Finasteride Phase 3 Results Out

Update: June 6, 2019: It seems like Polichem’s P-3074 will be called ALM12845 when finally released. Almirall just released its first quarter 2019 filings.

“The top-line Phase III results for ALM12845 (androgenic alopecia) in the EU show statistical significance for the primary end-point (Change of Target Area Hair Count) at week 24. We expect the submission in Europe of ALM12845 in Q4 2019.”

My guess is that a “submission” in Europe means the same as in the US: i.e., the company is filing for approval to sell the new drug after successful Phase 3 trial completion.

Polichem Almirall

April 19, 2019

I have covered topical finasteride for hair loss on this blog numerous different times. This despite the fact that I am far more interested in topical dutasteride.

Polichem — Topical Finasteride Phase 3 Trial Results

Earlier today, Switzerland-based Polichem (now owned by Spain’s Almirall) finally released the results of its Phase 3 trials for its eagerly awaited P-3074 topical finasteride product. This came after many months of anticipation (h/t to the guy who e-mailed me this news).

Edit: It seems like they released results in the EU last month, in a slightly different format to the US ones from today. I never wrote about this important development last month.

From what I can tell, both oral finasteride (105 test patients) and topical finasteride (48 test patients) seem to have given almost the same  results in increase in hair growth after 24 weeks.

Side effects between oral and topical finasteride also seem similar, although they are based on surveys of the patients rather than any scientific methodology.

I suppose many volunteers would drop out if they were asked to come in every couple of months for testing of erectile strength, hormonal blood tests, sperm count and so on. As it is, even in these trials, around 30 percent of subjects dropped out before the 24 weeks were over.

Most studies from the past several decades suggest very limited potential for long-term side effects from oral finasteride. If you do not believe those studies, you could still try out topical finasteride (available at most local compounding pharmacies).

No idea if Polichem will commercialize P-3074.