Photo by permission of Chloe Delong
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Latisse, which is made by Allergan to treat a condition known as hypotrichosis of the eyelashes, or in plain English, a person who does not have enough or inadequate eyelashes. According to Allergan, lush eyelashes were realized within sixteen weeks of initial treatment. Allergan is also the maker of Botox.
“LATISSE(TM) fulfills a significant and previously unmet need in the medical aesthetic marketplace with a product approved by the FDA that increases the growth of eyelashes, making them longer, thicker and darker,” said Scott Whitcup, M.D., Allergan’s Executive Vice President of Research and Development. “As the global leader in medical aesthetics, LATISSE(TM) exemplifies our continuing commitment to developing innovative treatments that are studied in well-controlled clinical trials, manufactured to pharmaceutical standards, appropriately labeled for use, and available to consumers as a prescription product,” as stated in the Company’s press release.
The active ingredient in Latisse is bimatroprost, which is responsible for the new growth of eye lashes. It is the same ingredient in one of Allergan’s other drugs, Lumigan, which is used to treat glaucoma. Doctors found that Lumigan caused their patients’ eyelashes to become lush. In clinical trials, Allergan confirmed this finding and created Latisse, which according to the Company has mild side effects.
The treatment is only for upper eyelid margins at the base of the eyelashes. The drug literature states that known side effects are eye redness, dryness of the eyes, eye irritation, and temporary darkening of the skin of the eyelid. However, it further notes that temporary darkening of the skin may be reversible. In addition, the Company notes that the drug may also permanently darken the iris of the eye as well as promote hair growth in other skin areas that the treatment applicator may touch. Therefore, it is imperative that excess residue be blotted away.
“It is also possible for a difference in eyelash length, thickness, fullness, pigmentation, number of eyelash hairs, and/or direction of eyelash growth to occur between eyes. These differences, should they occur, will usually go away if you stop using LATISSE(TM),” as further stated in the drug literature.
Well, that is comforting. So either you could look like a model or a freak.
However, use of this drug is not a cure all. Once the drug is discontinued, the lashes will revert back to their original length. This product has not been tested for pediatric use although the FDA has encouraged the Company to further study Latisse’s effects on children to help those children who have lost their eye lashes due to chemotherapy.
Cost for a thirty day treatment is $120.00. The cost does not apparently scare some. The Boston Herald polled their readers to see if they would consider using Latisse. The poll revealed that 38% of their readers would use the product, 56% would not and 6% were undecided. Moreover, according to Reuters, Allergan is predicting $500 million in annual global sales.
Given our obsession with vanity, Allergan will be batting its eye lashes right to the bank since Latisse will be another Botox drug for the cosmetic industry. Who knows what the future will bring. Since Latisse can promote unwanted hair growth, is Latisse a stepping stone to a drug that can cures baldness? Speculators, you might want to buy Allergan’s stock now.
Not to down play what this drug could mean for people who have lost their eyelashes to chemotherapy or other illness, it still begs the question did the FDA act too soon to give the green light to this drug? Is the potential for grave misuse, overuse, or other harmful long term side effects given the sensitive location of application of Latisse? We only have 2 eyes.
The FDA does not have the best track record these days. (Some would argue it has never had a good track record.) According to the New York Times,
“[weeks] after its own advisory board accused the Food and Drug Administration of failing to adequately consider research about the dangers of bisphenol-A, found in many plastic baby bottles, plastic food containers and metal can linings, the agency has agreed to reconsider the issue”
The article further states that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found that 93% of the urine from a sampled population contained BPA. Finally, after an uproar, the FDA has decided to relook at this controversy. So, call me a skeptic when the FDA gives a drug their blessing. I guess eye lash enhancements are more important than babies.
Nina Bai, “FDA Approves Drug That Promises Movie Star Eyelashes,” Blogs/80 Beats, Discover Magazine.com, December 30, 2008.
Toni Clark, “FDA approves Allergan’s drug for longer eyelashes,” Reuter, December 26, 2008.
Miranda Hitti, “FDA Oks 1st Eyelash Drug Latisse,” Skin and Beauty, WebMD Health News, December 26, 2008.
Jordan Lite, “Latisse: New Eyelash-Lengthening Drug Approved,” Scientific American, December 29, 2008.