Minoxidil is the leading hair loss product available and the first drug to be approved for this purpose. Over several decades of use it has proved itself effective on millions of men and women at reversing hair loss which resulted from pattern baldness. Generic versions of the drug have been available since the 1990s and treatment is surprisingly affordable, meaning that no matter what your financial circumstances there is no reason to simply accept pattern baldness as a fact of life.
Minoxidil was originally developed as a drug to treat high blood pressure or hypertension, an all too common chronic medical condition than can be a major factor in stroke and heart attack. When used to treat hypertension the minoxidil was taken orally in the form of a pill and was only used as a back up option if other treatment options had failed to have the desired effect. Patients who took the product noticed some rather unusual side effects. Hairs darkened and there was increased growth. Doctors were baffled by the side effect, but noticed that so many patients were reporting it that it couldn’t be coincidence.
Realising that the drug they created had much greater commercial potential in helping to prevent hair loss, Upjohn Corporation, the company that had a patent on the drug, sought and gained approval for its use as a hair loss treatment. Originally this continued to be prescribed as a pill, but in the 1980s a topically applied formula was developed under the brand name of Rogaine (which was changed to Regaine for the UK). This 2% minoxidil product had good results, but was only available to a minority of men with hair loss due to the high price of the formula. When Upjohn’s patent on minoxidil expired in the 1990s competitors entered the market and launched products at higher strengths, including the 5% which has now become standard. Prices of the product plummeted and more and more men were able to regrow lost hair and prevent further hair loss.