Physician Answered Q & As

Has a Higher Dosage of Minoxidil Proven To Be More Effective?

I have a couple questions about minoxidil. I know the common potencies are 2% and 5%. Why not go higher? I found a website called that offers with 15% minoxidil. Is this legitimate or just a scam? Has anything over 5% proven to make no more of a difference? – John

Dear John,

Thank you for taking the time to write.  As for the minoxidil, all the science shows us is the efficacy for the 2% and the 5% formulations.  Going higher usually increases the risk of side effects, and it might not be more effective.  Remember that minoxidil was originally a medication for blood pressure that was taken orally (at much higher doses, incidentally).  Pfizer decided to investigate it as a hair loss drug when patients began reporting the strange side effect of unwanted hair growth!  So these drugs are not without effects on other body systems.

One of the reasons doctors are able to make their own formulation with a higher potency of minoxidil (and to give it a name) is that minoxidil is now generic.  Once the patent expired and it became available over the counter, physicians and compounding pharmacists could then use it as an ingredient in their own proprietary formulations.  ScalpMed and Avacor are good examples of this in practice, and they work because their ingredients (i.e. minoxidil!) are proven to work!  You can even report the FDA approval for it on your labeling.  It is often the case, however, that the active ingredient can be obtained more cheaply in the generic form at your local pharmacy.

Your question is not a new one, however, and you are not the only person who is asking it.  If SOME is good, is not MORE simply better?  I can tell you that over the years I have had patients try every new formulation out there and report back to me, and never once have I had a home run.  If something was better, we would all be using it, doctors and patients alike, all over the world.  There is not some great conspiracy among hair doctors to keep the REAL hair remedies for ourselves.  Which is why my final advice to you would be that it is probably okay to go ahead and try it.  If it works, great!  I want to be the first person you tell about it!

Good luck, John!  Let us know how it goes.


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