Minoxidil was the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (hair loss). Before that, minoxidil had been used as vasodilator drug prescribed as oral tablet to treat high blood pressure, with side effects that included hair growth and reversal of male baldness. In the 1980s, UpJohn Corporation came out with a topical solution of 2% minoxidil, called Rogaine, for the specific treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Since the 1990s, numerous generic forms of minoxidil have become available to treat hair loss while the oral form is still used to treat high blood pressure.
Minoxidil is a vasodilator medication known for its ability to slow or stop hair loss and promote hair regrowth. It is available over the counter for treatment of androgenic alopecia, among other baldness treatments, but measurable changes disappear within months after discontinuation of treatment. Its effectiveness has largely been demonstrated in younger men (18 to 41 years of age), the younger the better, and in those with balding in the central (vertex) portion of the scalp.