Finasteride is a drug that is FDA-approved to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and male androgenic alopecia. (1) The cost of finasteride varies depending on which condition it is prescribed for and whether the patient has insurance. Price also depends on location and the patient’s dose.
What Is Finasteride Used For?
Finasteride was first used in 1992 to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). When used to treat BPH, finasteride is taken as a 5-milligram tablet once a day by mouth. (1)
In 1997, finasteride was approved to treat androgenic alopecia in men, also known as pattern hair loss. To treat androgenic alopecia, finasteride is taken orally once a day as a 1-milligram pill. (1)
Finasteride is sometimes prescribed off-label to treat female pattern hair loss, hirsutism (excessive hair growth in women), and polycystic ovarian syndrome. It’s sometimes used in transgender women alongside estrogen because of its anti-androgen properties (meaning it suppresses male sex hormones). (1,2)
Finasteride for Androgenic Alopecia
Androgenic alopecia is one of the most common forms of hair loss, affecting both men and women. (3) Androgens are hormones in the body which are usually helpful. However, with androgenic alopecia, an androgen known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) binds to the hair follicles in excess. This causes the hair follicles to shrink. As a result weaker, thinner hair strands grow. Over time this process can lead to balding. (3,4)
Finasteride is a DHT blocker. It reduces the amount of DHT in the bloodstream, therefore lowering the amount of DHT binding to hair follicles. Finasteride can reduce serum levels of DHT by 70 percent or more. Blocking DHT allows hair thicker hair to grow. (1)
Only oral finasteride is approved by the FDA for androgenic alopecia, although a topical form has been trialed. (5) Oral finasteride for hair loss is only approved for use in men. It’s meant to be taken at a dose of 1 milligram per day. (1)
Finasteride for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the enlargement of the prostate gland in men. It’s caused by changes in hormone levels as men age, including changes in levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). BPH can cause issues with the bladder, urinary tract, and kidneys. (6)
Finasteride lowers levels of DHT in the bloodstream, which reduces prostate size over time. (7) 5 milligrams of finasteride are taken per day to treat BPH. (1)
How Much Does Finasteride Cost?
Finasteride can range in cost from $0.50 to $5.25 or even more per pill. The main factors affecting cost are your location and how you access your medication. Like most medications, whether it’s covered by insurance will heavily influence the cost. The dose of finasteride you take and what it’s prescribed for will also impact the price.
What Would Finasteride Cost Without Insurance?
In countries like the UK, medical insurance isn’t standard. In the UK, if finasteride is prescribed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) it will be funded by the National Health Service (NHS). In Scotland, prescriptions are free. In England, prescriptions cost £9.35 which is usually for a month’s supply. (8)
Finasteride for hair loss isn’t covered by the NHS and instead must be prescribed privately. (9) Patients need to pay for a private consultation and then pay the full cost of the medication. On average finasteride costs between £0.40 and £1.50 per tablet in the UK depending on whether you buy the generic or brand version. In some places, patients get a prescription for BPH and break up pills into the appropriate hair loss dose.
In America, without insurance patients would need to pay the full cost of up to $5.25 per pill depending on whether they’re treating hair loss or BPH. Likewise, if patients need to pay out of pocket in Canada they will pay up to CA$ 1.74 per pill and in Australia, it will cost up to AU$ 1.44 per pill.
Propecia vs. Generic Finasteride Cost
Propecia is the same medicine as finasteride. Propecia is just a common brand name for this drug. Both medicines contain the same active ingredient. (10)
Propecia is usually more expensive than the generic form of finasteride. In the UK, based on a 1-milligram dose, the generic form of finasteride costs around £0.40 per tablet. In comparison, Propecia costs £1.50 per tablet. In the US, Propecia ranges from $1.38 to $3.88 per pill, while generic finasteride ranges from $0.74 to $1.04 per pill.
Finasteride 1 Milligram Cost
Finasteride is prescribed in a 1-milligram dose to treat androgenic alopecia in men. (1) Based on this dose in the US, finasteride averages between $0.16 to $3.23 per pill. In the UK, it ranges from £0.40 to £1.51 per pill. In Canada, finasteride costs an average of CA$ 1.55 per pill. In Australia, the average price is AU$ 0.92.
The specific price you’ll pay will depend on where you’re located and purchase your medication. For example, Walmart finasteride at 1-milligram doses costs an average of $1.12 per pill. In comparison, Finasteride’s cost at CVS is $0.99 on average.
Finasteride 5 Milligrams Cost
A 5-milligram dose of finasteride is used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). (1) In the UK, this dose would be covered by the National Health Service (NHS) and would cost around £9.35 for a month’s supply.
In the US, a 5-milligram dose ranges from $0.41 to $5.83 pill. In Canada, it costs CA$ 1.74 per pill on average. In Australia, the average cost is AU$ 1.44 per pill. In all countries, finasteride to treat BPH is available under the brand name Proscar, which tends to be more expensive.
In some cases, finasteride for BPH is cheaper in the long term than for hair loss. This is because finasteride for BPH tends to be covered by insurance since BPH is a serious health condition. Insurance companies view hair loss as an aesthetic issue, so are less likely to cover costs in this case. This applies in America, Canada, and Australia.
Long-Term Finasteride Costs
Hair loss treatments like finasteride need to be taken long-term. While finasteride is highly effective at reducing hair loss, it only works for as long as it’s being continuously taken.
Once a patient stops taking the medication, levels of DHT return to normal over time. While skipping a single dose – or even a few days – won’t make a huge difference, stopping finasteride long-term will cause hair loss to begin again.
The same issue applies if you are taking finasteride for BPH, as symptoms of an enlarged prostate will return if you stop taking the medication. (9,11) Therefore, patients need to take the ongoing cost of finasteride into consideration.
Finasteride Cost Per Month and Year
Based on a 30-day month, in the US, finasteride for hair loss can cost between $4.80 and $96.90 a month on average. For BPH, costs will vary between $12.30 and $174.90 per month on average. This means that per year, you can pay between $57.60 and $2,098.80 depending on the condition you’re treating and where you buy your medication. How much you need to pay out of pocket depends on whether your insurance will cover some of the medication.
In the UK to treat hair loss, finasteride will cost between £12 and £45.30 per month on average. The average per year is between £144 and £543.60. You may be able to get cheaper prices for buying pills in volume or if you find deals for an ongoing prescription. In the UK, finasteride for BPH is covered by the NHS and would cost only £9.35 for a month’s supply and £112.20 per year.
Oral Finasteride vs. Topical Finasteride
Finasteride for hair loss is taken orally, in pill form. It acts systemically, which means on the whole body. Oral finasteride can have some side effects, such as sexual dysfunction, but the exact risk of this is unknown. (5)
Topical finasteride is applied to the scalp, targeting hair follicles directly. It works by reducing levels of DHT in a similar way to oral finasteride. It’s typically applied in a dose between 0.23 milligrams and 0.91 milligrams once a day. When applied directly to the site of hair loss (instead of being ingested), topical finasteride rarely causes any systemic side effects. (5)
Topical finasteride shows promise in treating androgenic alopecia for both men and women. However, currently, only oral finasteride is approved by the FDA to treat hair loss. Topical finasteride may be prescribed off-label in some cases. (5)
Topical finasteride is sometimes combined with other topical hair loss treatments such as minoxidil. Minoxidil is a vasodilator that’s able to improve blood flow to the scalp.
Minodixil comes in both a solution and foam. It’s typically used in a 1-milliliter dose in a solution or a half a capful dose for foam, both applied twice a day. The treatment increases the size of hair follicles, allowing them to produce thicker hair strands. Combining topical finasteride and minoxidil has shown promise in treating both male and female pattern hair loss, but more research is needed. (12)
What Does Topical Finasteride Cost?
It’s difficult to estimate the cost of topical finasteride since it’s not FDA-approved and is typically a custom preparation measured out by a pharmacist. Sometimes topical finasteride is also combined with minoxidil. In such cases, prices will vary greatly depending on the percentages of each active ingredient in the solution, as well as where you buy it.
In the US, a combination of topical finasteride and minoxidil typically starts at around $30 a bottle. In the UK, the combination costs £28 per bottle for a month’s supply on average. In Canada, a bottle of topical finasteride with no minoxidil added costs around CA$99.99.
What Is the Average Cost of Finasteride?
The average cost of finasteride for hair loss per month in the US is between $4.80 and $96.90. In the UK, it’s between £12 and £45.30 per month. In Canada, it costs on average CA$46.50 per month. In Australia, it costs an average of AU$27.60 per month.
Costs vary greatly depending on where you live and how you access the medication. Whether you have insurance and the cost of your copay is another important factor.
In general, the 5mg dose of finasteride for BPH is cheaper because it tends to be covered by insurance or health services in most countries. The 1mg dose for hair loss tends to be more expensive for the patient because it’s paid out of pocket.
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- Medline Plus, (2015), Androgenetic alopecia. National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health.
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- Rossi, A., Magri, F., D’Arino, A., Pigliacelli, F., Muscianese, M., Leoncini, P., Caro, G., Federico, A., Fortuna, M. C., & Carlesimo, M. (2020). Efficacy of Topical Finasteride 0.5% vs 17α-Estradiol 0.05% in the Treatment of Postmenopausal Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Retrospective, Single-Blind Study of 119 Patients. Dermatology practical & conceptual, 10(2), e2020039.
Last updated October 2023