Background: Controversy regarding the relative efficacy of treatments for the relief of the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Methods: This was a 6-month double-blind randomized equivalence study that compared the effects of a plant extract (320 mg Permixon) with those of a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor (5 mg finasteride) in 1,098 men with moderate BPH using the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) as the primary end-point.
Results: Both Permixon and finasteride decreased the IPSS (-37% and -39%, respectively), improved quality of life (by 38 and 41%), and increased peak urinary flow rate (+25% and +30%, P = 0.035), with no statistical difference in the percent of responders with a 3 ml/sec improvement. Finasteride markedly decreased prostate volume (-18%) and serum PSA levels (-41%); Permixon improved symptoms with little effect on volume (-6%) and no change in PSA levels. Permixon fared better than finasteride in a sexual function questionnaire and gave rise to less complaints of decreased libido and impotence.
Conclusions: Both treatments relieve the symptoms of BPH in about two-thirds of patients but, unlike finasteride, Permixon has little effect on so-called androgen-dependent parameters. This suggests that other pathways might also be involved in the symptomatology of BPH.