Sight loss drug to be licensed as cosmetic

Glaucoma treatment gives users longer eyelashes

It started out as a medicine, a prosaic treatment for glaucoma. Now it is being used for its cosmetic effects, promising to turn women into doe-eyed beauties within days.

The drug firm Allergan – the £1.5bn global company behind Botox – believes that Latisse could be worth millions worldwide. It was originally used to treat glaucoma, but scientific studies showed that, as a side effect, it made users' eyelashes longer. The company expects it to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration shortly and to have it on shop shelves in the UK next year.

Longer lashes are a lucrative industry, with sales of mascara and other eye products estimated to reach £360m this year in the UK alone.

From the luxurious £5,000 mink and fox fur false eyelashes favoured by stars such as Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé to the vast array of high-end cosmetics claiming to lengthen, thicken and define eyelashes, increasingly extravagant measures are available to consumers wanting to highlight their eyes. Huge financial rewards await the company that markets a successful product, and these have already prompted fierce courtroom battles between drug and cosmetic companies.

To protect its anticipated bonanza, Allergan last year sued seven cosmetics companies for copyright infringement after they sold eyelash enhancing products containing Latisse's active ingredient, prostaglandins.

Valerie Randall, professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Bradford, said: "I imagine there will be a massive market for it. What the company is doing now is amplifying the side effects of a medical treatment. When we understand better how it works, it could be used in the treatment of alopecia and other hair growth problems."

Eyelash enhancers are just the latest example of an increasing crossover between cosmetics and medicine. Regaine, a treatment for male-pattern baldness, started life as a blood pressure drug; Botox was first used by doctors to treat eye squints and facial tics.

Patients are increasingly looking for non-surgical methods to tweak their looks, but with extreme remedies such as snake venom face cream on offer, the scalpel may look more appealing.

Beauty treatment: The side effects that paid off

Botox The wrinkle-busting drug, derived from the poison botulinum toxin, was originally used to treat spasms in the face and neck region. Doctors noticed that patients so treated also lost their wrinkles, and it is now the most popular anti-ageing treatment in the world.

Regaine The active ingredient in this treatment for baldness was discovered as a side effect of a medicine used to treat high blood pressure. Patients taking Minoxidil noticed that they experienced greater hair growth. Doctors found that it increases the supply of blood and nutrients to hair follicles.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

    £34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

    Developer - WinForms, C#

    £280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism