Kevin Malley’s ongoing Propecia hunger-strike at Merck’s corporate headquarters in Whitehouse, N.J., is focusing national attention on the drug’s severe and persistent sexual side effects.

“I want Merck to see how their drug is destroying lives — and know that I’m just one of thousands of victims suffering across the globe,” said Malley, who was prescribed Propecia last year by his doctor, and took the controversial medication for five months until suffering complete erectile dysfunction and other debilitating sexual side effects.

“Just as word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising, hearing directly from a person affected by a drug’s side effects carries a lot of weight,” says Baltimore-based attorney Alan Horwitz ( whose firm has produced a free educational brochure on Propecia’s devastating side effects.

Horwitz says that besides seeking recovery through legal means, Propecia victims should also use the FDA’s MedWatch reporting system, since it is the fastest way to make an impact on the FDA. “My thought is that as the FDA becomes more aware of the true scope of the problem they will issue additional warnings on Propecia’s growing list of side effects.”

Those affected can click on ( or call the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 to report by phone.

Dr. Michael Irwig, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine agrees with Horwitz: “The medical community is skeptical of any claimed side effect unless it can be proven by blood work or some other medical test. The more men who notify the FDA directly about their negative experience with Propecia, the more attention it should create within the agency, and hopefully, the FDA will expand its ongoing safety investigation of the drug.”

While there has been a lack of hard medical research on Propecia’s side effects, a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reports that male rats receiving oral finasteride treatment for four weeks had a 25% reduction in the weight of their penis (corpora cavernosa).

The study entitled, “Effects of Oral Finasteride on Erectile Function in a Rat Model” by MG Zhang is also available on the Internet. Propecia is the brand name for finasteride when it is prescribed in 1mg doses to treat male pattern baldness. When prescribed in 5mg doses to treat enlarged prostate it is sold under the brand name Proscar.

In commenting on the study, Dr. Irwig said, “This is consistent with what many men have told me that they have had shrinkage in their penis after taking Propecia.” Dr. Irwig’s ground-breaking study on the persistence of Propecia’s severe side effects was published last year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Meanwhile, Malley says he plans to continue going without food indefinitely while camped across from Merck’s headquarters. He is hoping his hunger strike will call attention to Propecia’s devastating side effects as many men who are taking the drug — and many doctors who are still prescribing it — have no idea that a drug prescribed for hair growth can wreak such havoc within the body.