Earth & Conservation

Admission From Trump's Doctor Puts Focus on Hair Loss Drug With Potential Side Effects

Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump's physician since 1980, said the president takes several medications, including the Merck-manufactured drug Propecia.

<p>Kevin Lamarque/Reuters<span></span></p>

President Donald Trump takes a drug to stave off baldness and another to prevent the skin condition rosacea, his longtime personal physician disclosed this week.

Dr. Harold Bornstein told The New York Times that Trump - whose elaborate coiffure is a running punchline for critics - takes finasteride, also known as Propecia. The drug is commonly used to treat an enlarged prostate as well as male-pattern baldness, which the Times noted could account for Trump's low results on a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test used to detect signs of cancer.

The 69-year-old Bornstein said he also takes Propecia, which he said has helped him keep his own hair as well. Bornstein said the president also takes an antibiotic for rosacea, a skin ailment similar to acne, which can cause redness and thickening of the skin on the face. The newspaper said the White House did not respond to requests for comment on Bornstein's disclosures.

The Food and Drug Administration notes that Propecia can decrease PSA counts even when prostate cancer has emerged, and says doctors should carefully evaluate those results in a patient who's taking the drug. In 2012, after complaints of erectile dysfunction and other sexual side effects, the FDA added an expanded warning label to finasteride products to warn that some of those effects could continue even after some men stopped taking the drug.

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At 70, Trump is the oldest man to be elected president. Bornstein raised eyebrows in December 2015, when he released a letter attesting to Trump's health in glowing terms, but with little detail.

The then-candidate's test results were "astonishingly excellent," Bornstein wrote, adding that Trump "will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency." In September, Bornstein released a more detailed statement that recounted blood test, EKG, colonoscopy and other test results, describing the GOP nominee as being in "excellent physical health. He also disclosed that Trump was taking the anti-cholesterol drug rosuvastatin, known as Crestor.

Propecia is manufactured by the pharmaceutical powerhouse Merck, whose CEO was one of several drug executives Trump met with at the White House on Tuesday. Trump complained that drug prices are "astronomical" and threatened to use the federal government's purchasing power to cut better deals – but he also said he wanted to speed up the FDA's approval process to get new medicines to market and criticized other countries for what he called "global freeloading" - price controls that cut into U.S. manufacturers' profit margins.

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