Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Move Over, Maybelline....Here Comes Latisse!

Allergan, Inc. has done it again.

At the end of this month, Allergan, the pharma company that created Botox, plans to introduce Latisse, the first FDA approved prescription drug for growing long lashes.

The New York Times reports:
The product has the same formula as Allergan’s eye drops for glaucoma, called Lumigan. It is one of several drugs in a category known as prostaglandin analogs, which are meant to reduce dangerous pressure in the eyeball. But as a side effect, the treatment tends to make the eyelashes of many patients longer and fuller.
Ah, but don't get too excited. There are side effects such as red, itchy eyes, darkening of the eyelid as well as the iris, and hair growth on areas of skin that the product comes into contact with. That's not good news considering women spend hundreds of dollars on eye creams and hair removal products/services to combat the darkened skin around the eyes and unwanted hair.

Another drawback: Latisse would be considered "discretionary healthcare", which is not covered by health insurance. At $120 per monthly dose, in today's economy, will consumers be willing to shell out that much cash for long lashes when they can go to Tarjay and purchase mascara for a fraction of the price without the inconvenience of having to get a prescription?

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery thinks so. According to a survey conducted by them last fall, despite the economic downturn, people were willing to pay the cost to look good:
Twenty-eight percent of the survey physicians said that their current use of fillers increased up to 30 percent, compared to six months ago and more than 40 percent of survey respondents stated that the number of Botox procedures also increased compared to six months ago.
However, if we're going to use Botox sales as a barometer for how Latisse will do, Allergan's financials tell a slightly different story. Newsweek reports:
Last January, Allergan projected that Botox revenues would rise about 14 percent to about $1.4 billion in 2008. Allergan's third-quarter report wrinkled a few brows when it revealed that Botox sales would rise only 4 percent or 5 percent.
Still, David E.I. Pyott, CEO of Allergan is optimistic, projecting sales of Latisse in excess of $500 million. Mr. Pyott compares the cost of the drug to that of a daily cup of coffee:
“If you think about it in terms of luxury, it’s four dollars a day,” he said. “We think this is fairly acceptable to a large segment of people even in these times.”

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