More than a flutter of interest in eyelash drug

If you fancy really batting those lashes, there is a new prescription medicine that will soon be available in the United States that might just turn out to be the biggest breakthrough in cosmetic pharmaceuticals since Botox.

The product, which will go by the name of Latisse, is in fact being introduced by Allergan, the maker of Botox, which has been adopted by hordes of women and men bewitched by its promise of smooth (and motionless) foreheads. Latisse, it is promised, will make your lashes sprout like ferns in a rainforest.

Like Botox, Latisse started out as a non-cosmetic concoction, in this case to combat glaucoma. (Botox was developed to calm unwanted eyelid twitching). But Allergan discovered that a side effect was a 25 per cent increase in eyelash length and a thickening of more than 100 per cent. Bat those, and all your romantic frustrations will be over.

There will be a cost. Side-effects might include itchiness of the eyes and a gradual change in colour of the iris. And aside from persuading their doctors to give them the necessary prescription, patients can expect to pay roughly $120 (£80) for a monthly dose.

Sales of mascara worldwide exceed $5bn. Allergan hopes it can tap into that market. "I think this is a fairly big deal," Ronny Gal of Sanford C. Bernstein, an equity research firm, said. "It is a new idea in a market that loves new ideas and, frankly, it works."

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