Objective: To test the hypothesis that in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the outcome of drug therapy with finasteride may be predictable from the baseline prostate volume and that positive clinical effects might be expected only in patients with prostate volumes of > 40 mL, using a subgroup analysis of results from a previously reported clinical trial of finasteride and phytotherapy.
Patients and methods: A subgroup of 431 patients was analysed from a randomized, multicentre, double-blind clinical trial involving 543 patients with the early stages of BPH. Patients received a fixed combination of extracts of saw palmetto fruit (Serenoa repens) and nettle root (Urtica dioica) (PRO 160/120) or the synthetic 5alpha-reductase inhibitor finasteride. The patients assessed had valid ultrasonographic measurements and baseline prostate volumes of either </= 40 mL or > 40 mL. All 516 patients were included in the safety analysis. The results of the original trial showed equivalent efficacy for both treatments.
Results: The mean (SD) maximum urinary flow (the main outcome variable) increased (from baseline values) after 24 weeks by 1.9 (5.6) mL/s with PRO 160/120 and by 2.4 (6.3) mL/s with finasteride. There were no statistically significant group differences (P = 0.52). The subgroups with small prostates (</= 40 mL) showed similar improvements, with mean values of 1.8 (5.2) mL/s with PRO 160/120 and 2.7 (7.4) mL/s with finasteride. The mean values for the subgroups with prostates of > 40 mL were similar, at 2.3 (6.1) and 2. 2 (5.3) mL/s, respectively. There were improvements in the International Prostate Symptom Score in both treatment groups, with no statistically significant differences. The subgroup analysis showed slightly better results for voiding symptoms in the patients with prostates of > 40 mL, but there were also improvements in the subgroup with smaller prostates. The safety analysis showed that more patients in the finasteride group reported adverse events and also there were more adverse events in this group than in patients treated with PRO 160/120.
Conclusion: The present analysis showed that the efficacy of both PRO 160/120 and finasteride was equivalent and unrelated to prostate volume. However, PRO 160/120 had better tolerability than finasteride.