Not since the PETA folks learned that Jennifer Lopez likes to use real fox hair for her false eyelashes has there been such an uproar over the eyelash. You might know that cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists have recently prescribed Lumigan, a prescription medication for glaucoma, to patients with healthy eyes who just want to benefit from one of the drug’s aesthetic side effects—the drops have been found to promote lash growth.
So long they’re illegal? Lash-lengthening drugs are causing some worry.
It’s certainly not the first time a physician has prescribed a medication for an entirely different purpose than it was originally intended. But what’s making the regulator types a little nervous is that cosmetic companies are getting in the lash-growing game. Last November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FDA had seized tubes of Age Intervention Eyelash, a mascara-like product from Jan Marini Skin Research, because the cosmetic contained bimatopros, the active ingredient in Lumigan. The FDA said that the product was an “unapproved and misbranded drug” and was potentially harmful.
Meanwhile, Allergen Inc.—the company that makes Lumigan—has filed a patent infringement suit against several other cosmetic companies marketing similar products. You see, Allergen most likely is in the midst of developing its own cosmetic version of Lumigan—the drug company already has experience turning a medicine into a cosmetic makeover, having brought Botox to the cosmetic market after originally developing it to treat eye spasms. So while it does seem likely that a safe and effective lash lengthener eventually will be readily available over the counter, for now it would be safest (and most effective) to stick with a physician’s supervision.