FDA has confirmed that a drug originally designed to treat the eye condition glaucoma appears to make eyelashes longer and thicker.
Allergan is currently seeking FDA approval to market the drug as an eyelash growth stimulator under the proposed brand name Latisse.
Market potential of eyelash enhancer
If successful, Allergan will become the first company to launch an FDA-approved eyelash enhancer and anticipates sales in excess of $500m a year to be the reward for its efforts.
The next step towards this goal is gaining the support of a panel of independent medical experts who meet on Friday to vote on Latisse.
If they give the all clear it is highly likely that Latisse will reach market because the FDA rarely goes against panel recommendations.
In advance of the advisory panel meeting, FDA published a review yesterday claiming that Latisse delivers statistically significant increases in eyelash length, thickness and darkness.
Under closer scrutiny than the potential of the drug will be its safety as an eyelash enhancer.
FDA review finds no major safety issues
No major safety issues were raised in the FDA review although four patients in the 278-person clinical study left because of side effects such as dry eye and eye inflammation.
Allergan said it would minimize risk by telling doctors and patients about potential drug side effects and instructing users not to use Latisse on lower eyelashes.
The drug itself is based on bimatoprost, which is a synthetic prostaglandin analogue that is currently used to treat glaucoma.
It was during clinical studies of the drug for glaucoma that Allergan discovered that some patients developed longer, darker and thicker eyelashes.