In the early 1990s, scientists in France synthesized a new topical anti-androgen called RU58841 (or RU-58841). This product was effective at tackling various androgen related disorders, including hair loss, acne and hirsutism. Since that time, a few favorable studies have been published that have shown the effectiveness of RU58841 in regrowing hair (in hamsters, humans and mice).
However, unlike Minoxidil or Finasteride, the US FDA has not approved the use of RU58841 for treating scalp hair loss and the product cannot be prescribed at pharmacies and is not meant to even be used by humans. RU58841 is classified as a chemical and can be purchased by pharmacists in the US for their own independent research. It does not seem like the chemical has been approved anywhere in the world to treat hair loss as far as I can tell from my limited research. This has not prevented numerous hair loss sufferers around the world from getting their hands on RU58841 and using it. This is illegal, but for a hair loss sufferer such as myself, not a surprising development at all. People on the forums have tried much crazier things in the past, and will always do so. Internet commerce also makes law enforcement that much harder.
You can find dozens of very positive online testimonials regarding RU58841 from reputable and active members on hair loss forums. It should be noted that some of these testimonials may credit RU58841 for positive results, when in fact the person is also using Minoxidil and/or Finasteride and/or Dutasteride and it is hard to gauge which product is most responsible for the said positive results.
Topical RU58841 has a very short half-life (1 hr) in comparison to the oral ingestion of Finasteride (6 hrs) and Dutasteride (5 weeks!). Moreover, RU58841 does not inhibit DHT production like the latter two products. These facts seem to suggest that there is minimal chance of any serious or permanent side effects, and anecdotal evidence on the forums seems to support that. However, because many people are buying RU58841 from online sometimes unknown and unverified suppliers, there is no guarantee of any kind of safety at all. I am not planning to buy RU58841 online because of safety issues. The product is also quite expensive in comparison to Minoxidil or Finasteride. If you really do wish to buy this product, consult a doctor first.
Coming back to the title of this blog post, the reason I find RU58841’s predicament strange is due to the fact that despite a respectable amount of evidence over the past two decades in support of the product’s anti-androgenic capabilities, no company has decided to go through with clinical trials for this product for use as an anti-androgen. This is especially surprising considering that side effects are likely to be minimal to non-existent when RU58841 is applied in low doses. Perhaps companies do not think that the product is much better than topical Minoxidil? Or perhaps because the product cannot be patented, the long-term profitability and monopoly of any new product containing RU58841 is suspect? Even stranger, the research on this product has dried up in recent years, which is not true for other anti-androgens such as Spironolactone and Flutamide.
Update: It seems like the original RU58841 was renamed to HMR3841, and then to PSK3841 after a company named ProStrakan acquired rights to it. I assume that the current name is yet again RU58841?! Thanks to commentator “yo” for pointing out that this fact was mentioned in hellouser’s lengthy forum thread that I linked to earlier in this post. More importantly, PSK3841 was analysed in a 2005 Morgan Stanley report and I am pasting that favorable analysis below in case the link gets deleted:
“ProStrakan’s topical androgen receptor antagonist has completed a Phase IIa proof-of-concept study for alopecia. In this trial, which was not powered for efficacy, there was an observed increase in both new and existing hair growth and the data compared well with historical data for finasteride (marked by Merck as Propecia). We believe the market for this agent is resonably modest – US $100 – 200 million – but that could be of interest to a specialty dermatology company.”
Also, I found details about a human study on PSK3841 that was supposedly done in 2002, but am not sure if it was ever completed. If anyone lives in France, please see if you can contact Dr Evelyne Guénolé, the primary contact person for that study.