GUELPH, ONT.–Health Canada has approved minoxidil (Rogaine), for hereditary hair loss. McNeil Consumer Healthcare will have product available for over-the-counter sale in pharmacies as of February.

The approval may be welcome news for the 4.6 million Canadian men who suffer from hereditary hair loss; however, they should be cautioned about Rogaine’s proper use.

“There’s no question that patients using Rogaine need counselling,” says Doug Fatum, pharmacist-owner of the Medical Centre Pharmacy in Peterborough, Ontario.

“The onset of action is four months,” says Fatum. “Hair growth tends to peak at one year and there is a slow decline for regrowth after one year.”

Rogaine was in high demand when it first hit the U.S. OTC market in 1996, and Canadian pharmacists can expect a similar response.

“About 40% of Canadian men suffer from hereditary hair loss,” says Lan Lay-Minh, manager of consumer and professional relations for McNeil Consumer Healthcare.

Rogaine is a topical solution that is applied twice daily to the scalp. Potential side effects include dermatitis and allergic reaction. Pregnant women should avoid contact with the solution.

Rogaine is most effective when the bald spot is less than 10 cm in diameter; the user is under 40 years old; and hair loss has taken place for less than 10 years.

For more information pharmacists and patients can call 1-800-Rogaine.