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Lash out: Proposed cosmetic drug for stimulating eyelashes may unleash market boom

Article-Lash out: Proposed cosmetic drug for stimulating eyelashes may unleash market boom

Key iconKey Points

  • Allergan is planning to submit an NDA for its eyelash growth drug
  • The drug is predicted to reach blockbuster status

Dr. Werschler
IRVINE, CALIF — Allergan Inc.'s proposed new drug for stimulating eyelash growth may also stimulate something else: a boom in the cosmetic-drug market.

Irvine-based Allergan plans to submit a New Drug Application to the FDA early this Fall for the use of bimatoprost in stimulating eyelash growth. Bimatoprost, a prostaglandin, is FDA-approved for glaucoma treatment and is marketed by Allergan under the brand name Lumigan in the United States and Canada.


Dr. Goldberg
If approved, bimatoprost for the eyelash growth indication will be available only by prescription, says Heather Katt, Allergan's senior manager for corporate communications. Allergan has exclusive U.S. and foreign patents on bimatoprost and other prostaglandins and prostaglandin analogs for use in stimulating eyelash growth. The company secured those patents when it discovered that glaucoma patients treated with bimatoprost experienced significant eyelash growth.

PREVIEWED RESULTS William Philip Werschler, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine and dermatology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, an investigator in the bimatoprost clinical trials for the eyelash-growth indication, tells Cosmetic Surgery Times that trial results showed significant lash growth with none of the side effects associated with bimatoprost's use in treating glaucoma, such as altered pigmentation of eyelid skin and eye color.

"One of the side effects of bimatoprost in glaucoma indications is that it can affect the color of the iris, especially in hazel eyes, making them darker," he says. "I observed no such side effect in trials for eyelash growth. Remember, bimatoprost is applied directly on the eye in the form of drops in treating glaucoma. For stimulating lash growth, it's applied with a small brush at the base of the lashes."

David J. Goldberg, M.D., director of Skin Laser & Surgery Specialists of New York/New Jersey, adds that when used for treating glaucoma, prostaglandins such as bimatoprost also have an occasional tendency to cause redness in the eyes. "These side effects," he adds, "are not considered serious."

Ms. Katt confirms these bimatoprost-stimulated eyelash growth findings. "Eighty percent of patients participating in the clinical program observed eyelash growth within three to four months of treatment," she says.

As for other official trial results, Ms. Katt says they're not yet available.

"For proprietary reasons, until published, we are not providing any more detail about the clinical program results," she tells

RESULTS IN DEMAND Physicians and industry observers appear unanimous in their opinion that Allergan's as-yet-unnamed eyelash-growth drug will be a major success because there's significant demand for eyelash-enhancement products.

"Most all women want longer, thicker lashes, but until now options have been limited," says dermatologist Susan Bushelman of Florence, Ky. "Most women apply mascara to get temporary results, others get temporary extensions applied...a costly procedure with temporary results. There are surgical options with more permanent results, but with significant associated costs and risks."

BLOCKBUSTER POTENTIAL According to Ms. Katt, Allergan estimates that global peak sales of its eyelash-growth drug will exceed $500 million per year.

"I think their number is realistic," says Marc Goodman, managing director of investment-banking firm Credit Suisse in New York. "Allergan is very thoughtful about putting out numbers and they have a good track record of hitting their numbers," he adds. "That said, this is one of those markets that we think calls for a wait-and-see attitude, so our projection is more in the neighborhood of $200 million."


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